By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

Are Wheaties hazardous to your health?

Are Wheaties Hazardous to Your Health?

Of course not, but some people would have you believe

Wheaties cereal contains phytates.

Dairy producers see soymilk as the new kid on the block, and
they are running scared. Their strategy is to spread rumors
about soy because it contains phytates. Perish the thought,
phytates? Quick, induce vomiting. Call Poison Control.
Where's the stomach pump?


One bowl of cereal (portion size is defined on the side of a
box of Wheaties) is equal to: 3/4 cup of cereal and 1/2 cup
of milk.

If the soy naysayers are correct, and if you enjoy a bowl of
Wheaties for breakfast, that single portion of cereal will
contain more than 2.5 times the amount of phytates as will
the soymilk used to moisten that breakfast of champions.


Dr. Anthony Mercola writes:

"Soybeans are high in phytic acid...It's a substance that
can block the uptake of essential minerals... Scientists are
in general agreement that grain- and legume-based diets high
in phytates contribute to widespread mineral deficiencies in
third world countries. Analysis shows that calcium,
magnesium, iron and zinc are present in the plant foods
eaten in these areas, but the high phytate content of soy-
and grain-based diets prevents their absorption."

Sally Fallon director of the Weston Price Foundation echoes
Mercola's lack of wisdom (almost word for word):

"Soybeans are also high in phytic acid or phytates....which
blocks the uptake of essential minerals-calcium, magnesium,
iron and especially zinc-in the intestinal tract. Scientists
are in general agreement that grain and legume based diets
high in phytates contribute to widespread mineral
deficiencies in third world countries. Analysis shows that
calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc are present in the plant
foods eaten in these areas, but the high phytate content of
soy and rice based diets prevents their absorption."

A website registered in New Zealand offers similar
disinformation. Soy Online Service (should be re-named Soy
Offline Disservice). In a column titled "SoyToxins," they

"There's plenty yet that you didn't know about soy! Soy
contains several naturally occurring compounds that are
toxic to humans and toxins such as phytic
acid...have the ability to target specific organs, cells and
enzyme pathways and their effects can be devastating....As
with any toxin there will be a dose at which negative
effects are not observed. Soy Online Services have examined
the scientific data on the soy toxins and have uncovered
several alarming truths...There is no legislation to protect
consumers from soy toxins in raw soy products...all soy
products, no matter how well treated, contain low to
moderate levels of soy toxins; processing cannot remove them
all of any of them."

Since soymilk is the bone of contention, I chose its phytate
content to serve as a baseline for comparison to wheat

Charts contained on pages 30-34 of Food Phytates (edited by
Rukma Reddy and Shridhar Sathe, CRC Press, ISBN # 1-56676-
867-5) reveal:

The percentage of phytates in soymilk is listed as 0.11%.

Wheat has been called the "Staff of Life."

Durham wheat contains 8 times more phytates than soymilk

Whole wheat bread contains almost 4 times more phytates than
soymilk (0.43%).

Wheaties, contain nearly fourteen times more phytates than
soymilk (1.52%).

Let's use common logic here. If wheat contains more phytates
than soymilk, then wheat should not be eaten either, right?
What a silly claim soymilk detractors make. It is without

A typical portion of breakfast cereal consists of two
ingredients, cereal & milk. The proportions: three-quarters
of a cup of Wheaties weighs 22.5 grams. One-half cup of
soymilk weighs 122.5 grams. Ergo, the wheaties contain 342
milligrams of phytates. The soymilk contains 135 milligrams
of phytates.

Now, let's get to the point of this. In their introduction
and summary of the scientific substantiation to follow, the
authors of Food Phytates write:

"Recent investigations have focused on the beneficial effect
of food phytates, based upon their strong mineral-chelating
property...The beneficial effects include lowering of serum
cholesterol and triglycerides and protection against certain
diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, renal stone
formation, and certain types of cancers."

So you see, phytates are healthy for you. Phytates represent
a prime example of using food for medicine.

Of course, if you happen to believe all of the negative soy
hype, skip the Wheaties. Skip the soymilk. You can always
have a corn muffin, right? Let's go to the phytate chart.
What percentage of corn bread is phytates? Oh, no. Corn
muffins contain twelve times the percentage of phytates as
soymilk, or 1.36%. An extra-large 6-ounce corn muffin (168
grams) contains 228 milligrams of phytates, midway between
the (3/4 cup) Wheaties and (1/2 cup) soymilk.

So, take your pick. All of this anti-phytate rhetoric is
either A) serious stuff B) ridiculous propaganda.

Robert Cohen, author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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