Boxed Breakfast Cereal is Toxic!

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

Ditch the Boxed Cereal
Did you know that ALL boxed breakfast cereals are toxic?

In fact, organic boxed breakfast cereal is the most toxic of all!   How can this be?   It seems that everywhere you turn, a bowl of breakfast cereal is touted as a very healthy choice for your first meal of the day.

It’s not true, folks!

To make boxed breakfast cereal in the factory, the grains first have to be subjected to such intense pressure and heat that they actually liquify into a slurry.  This slurry allows the grains to be quickly and easily shaped into the puffs, flakes, and other shapes that make each cereal distinct.

The manufacturing process used to make boxed cereal is called extrusion and it is so violent and denaturing that the proteins in the grains are actually rendered toxic and allergenic by the process.   This is why organic boxed breakfast cereal is more toxic than nonorganic – because organic boxed cereal is whole grain and thereby has more protein in it!   The more protein, the more toxic the boxed cereal.

What is a cold breakfast cereal lover to do?   Boxed breakfast cereal is considered a staple food in our society.   No worries for all you healthy home economists out there – just make your own!    Here’s a recipe that my family loves and that I have shared for years as a Chapter Leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation.  I hope your family enjoys it too!

* For you visual learners, click here for a videoblog on how to make this very cereal!

Healthy Cereal Alternative to Boxed Versions

6 cups freshly ground flour (sources)
3 cups raw milk or plain whole milk yogurt

Mix well and soak the flour in the milk  on the kitchen counter (covered with a cloth and rubber band)
for 24 hours.


Mix in 2 tsp baking soda (sources)
3/4 cup coconut oil (sources)
1 cup maple syrup or honey ( you can use 1/2 cup maple syrup and 4 drops liquid stevia  instead if you prefer) (sources)
1 tsp sea salt (sources)
1 tsp vanilla extract (sources)
1 tsp maple flavoring (sources)
1 TBL cinnamon (sources)

Mix everything into a batter. Pour batter into (2) 9 x13 pans coated with coconut oil. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do NOT overbake. Let cool and then crumble onto baking sheets and dehydrate at 200 degrees for about 24 hours. Take out dried cereal off the top every few hours so as not to over dry and make the cereal too hard. Store in airtight container in the fridge.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Sources and More Information

How to Adjust to the Taste of Soaked Oatmeal

Soaked Oatmeal Benefits Without the Soaking?

How to Make Oatmeal the RIGHT Way

Dirty Little Secrets of the Food Processing Industry

Picture Credit


Comments (86)

  1. Here is his response, What do you say?
    First, you denature proteins when you heat food above 40 degrees or so. So all your vegetables cooked in water, meat, and egg dishes contain denatured proteins. The fear from denatured proteins is similar to the fear of DNA in the flowers growing in your back garden.
    You then mention glycation products (AGPs). These are products of non-enzymatic reactions between proteins and sugars, and are indeed thought to be rather unhealthy. Here’s a paper with a lot of information on them:
    Among other things, the paper has a table for the glycation products from a number of foods, and here are two selected numbers:
    olive oil, extra virgin, cold pressed: about 500 kU/serving (of 5 g), while raisin bran (Kellogs) has 10 kU/serving (of 30 g). In fact, when you go over the table, cereals are certainly the least serious source of glycation products on the list. Also, the difference in the amount of AGPs between regular olive oil and the cold-pressed one is about 10% – a small difference, but still 5 times more than the total amount of AGPs in cereals (even taken portion-wise, as I did).
    Then you mention Furosine. I couldn’t find any discussion of health damage from Furosine – it is a glycation product derived from the amino acid lysine, and has been researched extensively, but seems mostly to be used as an indicator, since it is presumably easy to measure its quantity in food. It doesn’t seem to have any separate status as a health hazard. One specific point about furosine is that lysine is an essential amino acid, and higher amount of furosine indeed indicate less lysine availability from the food. But the numbers are not very large – maybe half the lysine gets converted to furosine under extreme conditions.
    Finally, it turns out that the glycation products are actually considered as ‘good’ in some circumstances – for example, they have antioxidant activity.
    Last but not least – extrusion. This is a process widely used to make food – not only cereals but also pasta. Generally, any food that you eat and that had a shape give by humans rather than nature was produced by extrusion. As far as I know, you give pasta to the kids. Extrusion is not a single process, but a family of processes whose effect on food depends on multiple parameters. The mechanical aspects of the extrusion process certainly don’t denature proteins (as implied by your message) – this is done by heating. AGP production also depends a lot on the conditions in which the process works. This is true for any process used to make food.
    Finally, look at the huge distance there is between the evidence that you bring and the consequences you infer from it. What you have is a list of quantitative issues (extrusion increases significantly one thing or another; it may influence the level of AGPs; it may affect the level of lysine that is actually available to the body). None of these is extremely serious by itself, and as I found out that AGPs are actually substantially less present in cereals than in other foods. Nevertheless you infer that morning cereals are toxic.
    So – all smoke and no fire.

  2. Hi Sarah,

    Need some help here. I sent this article to my ex who is now feeding junk to kids all the time after they had been in a nourishing tradition diet all of their lives . He replied “Saying it is toxic does not mean it is toxic. Here let me state :Boxed Breakfast Cereal is So Healthy!”

    I wrote the following :
    she explained that extreme heat and pressure are applied to grains denaturing their protein and thus rendering it toxic.

    That process of extreme heat and pressure is called Extrusion and it enables mass production of food, so extruded food = processed food .
    When you think about it at a chemical level, it’s more than a bit naïve to assume that foods can be taken from their fresh state, heated to extremely high temperatures, exposed to chemical and physical processing, spray dried, and left to sit on a store shelf for many months (if not years), and still maintain the beneficial nutritional properties of the fresh food.

    The extrusion process results in chemical reactions that have the following effects:
    Reduction of microorganisms in the final product (for good and for bad)
    Slight increase of iron-bioavailability
    Creation of insulin-desensitizing starches (a potential risk-factor for developing diabetes)
    Loss of lysine, an essential amino acid necessary for developmental growth and nitrogen management
    Simplification of complex starches, increasing rates of tooth decay
    Increase of glycemic index of the processed food, as the “extrusion process significantly increased the availability of carbohydrates for digestion”
    Destruction of Vitamin A (beta-carotene)
    Denaturation of proteins.

    Extrusion may change carbohydrates, dietary fibre, the protein and amino acid profile, vitamins, and mineral content of the extrudate in a manner that can be beneficial ( microorganiss are killed) , or harmful if high temperature and pressure are used . (like in the case of boxed cereals)

    Why? because high temperatures and pressure cause the fragmentation of proteins, starches, and non-starch polysaccharides that create reactive molecules that may form new linkages not found in nature. This includes Maillard reactions which reduce the nutritional value of the proteins or destruction of vitamins
    According to Shivendra Singh, Shirani Gamlath*andLara Wakeling, in Nutritional aspects of food extrusion: a review, a negative effect has been found on nutritional quality of the extrudate with a high temperature and low moisture (less than 15%) like in the case of boxed cereals.

    Is that clearer or do you need me to expand more?

    About DENATURATION of proteins :

    Denatured proteins are ALTERED protein structures, that can be produced BOTH in ur foods and in our bodies. Those altered proteins are also called GLYCATION PRODUCTS ( when the chemical changes proceed far enough they are called advanced glycation endproducts or AGEs) . Various glycation products have been found CONSISTENTLY elevated in the body under conditions of disease and aging . And by the way, a partucular glycation product called furosine, has been found elevated in patients with ALzheimers ….($=citationsensor)

    Similar to the glycation phenomenon which occurs in the body under conditions of aging or disease , certain types of food processing result in the production of high amounts of furosine in some food like… tata, BREAKFAST CEREALS!!

    quote from study Lysne availability is diminished in commercial fibre-enriched breakfast cereals:
    Furosine is a heat–induced marker for thermal treatment in foodstuffs and is directly related to the loss of lysine availability…Data showed a statistically significant effect of protein content, added–dietary fibre and physical form of the samples (flakes/puffed) on the level of furosine present in commercial breakfast cereals. The higher the protein content in the formulation, the higher were the furosine levels, regardless of the protein source. Significantly higher furosine levels were found in puffed commercial breakfast cereals.

    Eating these denatured proteins and glycation products has been shown to add to the AGE burden, may be particularly detrimental to kidney function, and to cause a major increase in systemic inflammation – including inflammatory disease markers such as C–reactive protein, even in healthy subjects (

    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist January 8, 2015 at 10:37 am

      Denaturing means that the proteins won’t fit together with enzymes to digest them any longer. When food cannot be digested, it causes digestive imbalance and allergenic issues over time.

  3. Lisa Griffiths via Facebook April 29, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    You’re so right. But it’s not always that easy when you’re a busy mum. I’ve recently discovered quinoa porridge… what do you think of that? It’s delicious by the way, especially with a but of raw cacao powder, coconut oil, sprinkling of chia and milled flax, and a handful of berries. Yum!

  4. Sara Rockwell via Facebook April 29, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Happy anniversary! I watched your soft boiled egg video today and made one for my 6 month old. She loved it. No rice cereal for this baby!

  5. Damara I. Friederich via Facebook April 29, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    As soon as I get a chef to prepare the day to day daily meals for my family, I will start making homemade cereal. It’s a struggle buying GF, dairy free cereal. I suppose you can sub almond milk for the raw milk?

  6. Ahlgren Fam via Facebook April 29, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Happy blog anniversary! Your blog has been so helpful, encouraging, and inspiring to me and my family! You’ve definitely made traditional eating more understandable for beginners! When we started reading your blog over three years ago our 1.5 year old started going to the computer saying “Hope-a-conna!” asking to watch your videos! Keep up the good work! 😀

  7. Michelle Rinaldi via Facebook April 29, 2014 at 10:50 am

    What else is there except eggs? Wheat is bad, cereal is bad! What is quick and easy in the mornings that is healthy? ?

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  9. David Rubino via Facebook December 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Wait this is all made up. Extrusion *destroys* toxins within cereal grains, and although it had a few not-so-good side effects, toxins and microorganisms go way down. But, once again, this “author” just makes things up and no one bothers to check…

  10. I am skeptical similar to the normal person who commented previously. If this cereal is and has been so bad for us why has it been around for such a long time. And it doesn’t feasible to turn grains toxic by cooking them. Or is it chemically possible to do so?

  11. Kim Sharp via Facebook December 30, 2013 at 11:44 am

    I’m not sure how flour constitutes a healthy breakfast. How does a breakfast like this affect the glycemic index?

  12. Bonny Clark via Facebook December 30, 2013 at 10:00 am

    I’ve made that recipe and it is good, but I now love on the road full-time and don’t have the necessary amenities to make it. Plus I’m a busy mom and just don’t have time for recipes like that. Instead we just don’t eat any cereal and only eat eggs, oatmeal, or rice for breakfast. Trying to follow a Weston A. Price diet on the road is very difficult, but we do our best.

  13. Priscilla Wallace via Facebook December 30, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Is the maple flavoring, GMO free? It contains soy. I do not knoe Frontiers stance is on GMO ingredients.

  14. Melanie Crisp via Facebook December 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    thankyou so much:) I was seriously just thinking about what I’m going to do about changing out our cereals 90 seconds ago!

  15. Heidi Bott via Facebook December 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Last New Years I made the goal to rid our house of boxed cereals. My kids weren’t all to excited, but it didn’t even take us a month. Not only do we eat better, but we save a lot of money too!

  16. Susan Eaton via Facebook December 29, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Agree with the homemade cereal being in the oven for 24 hrs. I make homemade granola that goes over my yogurt or with raw milk and still buy some organic cereal from TJ’s or Whole Foods (not from the brands that have GMO). I guess it would be better to have a dehydrator to make this? Also can I see a pic of it if anyone made it before?

  17. Sara Russ via Facebook December 29, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    I get puffed spelt grains from the wholefoods store and then I coat them in butter and honey and then toast them under the grill (I think you americans call it broiling?) stirring to make sure they don’t burn. then once they look good and toasted I leave them to cool and then serve ’em up with milk. YUM!

  18. Jamie Cuddy Durfee via Facebook December 29, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Running my gas oven at 200 for 24 hours sounds like expensive cereal. I agree about boxed cereal. In fact when I ate it on a reg basis my stomach was not happy. I quit eating it and felt better.

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  22. Hi Sarah,
    My adult son has has given up bread after discovering that it wasn’t good for him. He’s started eating rice cakes. Are they extruded? I don’t think rice cakes are an ideal food, but how bad are they really? Maybe you would like to do a post on them.
    Thanks, Ruth

  23. Dear god woman. Learn some basic science.

    “To make boxed breakfast cereal in the factory, the grains first have to be subjected to such intense pressure and heat that they actually liquify into a slurry.”

    Not only not even close to how flakes are made, it’s not even physically possible. Grains are not rocks, they do not “liquify” under heat and pressure, i.e. melt.

    “is so violent and denaturing that the proteins in the grains are actually rendered toxic and allergenic by the process. ”

    Also not anywhere near scientifically accurate or possible.

    “This is why organic boxed breakfast cereal is more toxic than nonorganic — because organic boxed cereal is whole grain and thereby has more protein in it! The more protein, the more toxic the boxed cereal.”

    Grain protein is not toxic.
    It’s no where near toxic.
    The difference between whole grain cereal and normal cereal is the normal cereal is typically only made with the endosperm portion of the seed. This part is all carbohydrate, very little anything else. It’s starch. Whole grain uses the…whole grain. So it includes the germ, which is protein, as well as the bran which is fiber (indigestible cellulose).

    Your theories and comments are false, scientifically inaccurate, easily refutable.
    In short: bullshit.

  24. Hi Sarah I read this post and then watched your video on how to make breakfast cereal. In the recipe here you write raw milk or yogurt but in the video you say to use clabbered milk or buttermilk. Can I use raw milk that has not been clabbered? I’d like to make it today and my milk is still fresh!


  25. One more question, in your ingredients you saw raw milk to soak with, but in your video it is clabbered. Which is best? Thank you

  26. Is it ok to use already ground sprouted wheat or whole wheat flour if you dont have a flour mill or a vitamix?

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  28. Can this cereal be dried in a dehydrator instead of the oven ( a gas stove heats up the house really quickly and that is not so good in the summer)?.. if so for how long?

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  31. Tanya Drescher May 23, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    How long does it take raw milk to sour for soaking? We were told it is good for drinking from 10-12 days or so.

    • It really depends on where you live, how fresh the milk is, and many other evironmental factors. For example, during the winter, when the milk stays very cold in the car all the way from pick-up to the refrigerator at home, it will take MUCH longer to clabber, and of course, the very opposite in the summer. Leaving the milk out on the counter for 1 to 2 days can speed up the process, but sometimes even THAT can take up to 3 days, even down here in hot, humid Florida.

  32. I would love to read the studies on how proteins are affected by the extrusion process, and how those proteins affect our health. Could you point me to the studies please? Also, thanks for the recipe!

    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist May 15, 2011 at 11:14 pm

      Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry on is a great read on the subject.

  33. Dumb question here – do rolled oats fall into the bad/toxic category due to the processing?? thanks so much for all your great information. I’m still making small steps, but enjoying the journey. :-)

      • Sarah freshly grinds the flour so as to ensure the maximun ammount of nutrients are still in the finish product. The soaking is to break down antinutrients, such as phytic acid, and gluten, so as to make the grains much easier to digest. So, yes, you should absolutely soak your flour.

  34. Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama August 18, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Could I reduce the amount of sweetener in general? 1 c. of maple syrup seems like a LOT! I'm thinking about making this next week for quick and easy on-the-go snacks for my kids. Hmm….

  35. Sarah, what about ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain cereal? I know the grains are sprouted and minimally processed, but i dont know the exact procedure they use. it seems to be okay b/c they aren't formed or squished into any shape, it's just crumbled grain…

  36. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist June 19, 2010 at 1:24 am

    Hi Tracey, I actually use my oven to dry out the cereal. I set it as low as it will go. A dehydrator would work fine too.

  37. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist March 30, 2010 at 2:09 am

    Since the wheat flour is soaked overnight, the gluten is broken down as practiced by traditional societies. You might find that you can eat wheat prepared traditionally in this way. If not, try another type of flour that works for you. I haven't tried other flours, so cannot offer advice.

  38. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist May 8, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    The ingredients are good but how is the cereal processed is the real question. Do you buy at a local healthfood store?

    Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


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