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Health Benefits of CheeriosEssay

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Functional Foods

The author of this report is asked to find a self-identified "functional food" on the internet or elsewhere in the advertising sphere. The author is asked to summarize what claims or assertions the company makes about the product. The author will then compare and contrast what is found in that ad or site to what is found in the scholarly literature about the same functional food. There will be an analysis of just how honest the food company is being and/or whether their claims should be taken seriously. For the purposes of this report, the focus shall be on Cheerios and that product actually delivers on the claims it makes. Cheerios makes a few claims about its product. One of the main ones is that its oat-based formulation helps lower cholesterol. Relatedly, it states that there is a link between the use of soluble fiber in oats and overall heart health. Of course, too much cholesterol building up in arteries can lead to heart attacks (Cheerios). While Cheerios touts an FDA endorsement of their product on their website, the overall evidence is mixed.

Analysis

The author of this report is implored to use peer-reviewed content for this report. However, the author will stray for a quick second for one thing that should be mentioned. Although it was quite a bit of time ago (2009), General Mills (the parent company that owns the brand name Cheerios and makes them) was warned by the FDA about the claims it was making about Cheerios. General Mills responded defiantly, more or less, by saying that their "science was strong" (Hitti). The author of this report makes it a point to cite that because the Cheerios websites indicates something a bit different, at least it is different not. Indeed, the Cheerios website says "a health claim approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration highlights the connection between foods that contain soluble fiber from oats and heart health" (Cheerios). General Mills is playing a little bit of word games there because they do not technically say that Cheerios is an example of a food that does that. However, the title of the page in question is "Does Cheerios help lower your cholesterol." As such, General Mills is talking a thin line (Hitti) (Cheerios).

As for the scholarly literature, the author of this report did indeed find some useful information. First of all, Cheerios has apparently been in the practice of using something controversial in their products, at least in the past. It is noted in a 2014 journal article that General Mills would no longer be using genetically modified organisms as part of making their products. The author is asked via this assignment whether the food in question is safe. Most people would say "yes" to a fairly (if not very) healthy cereal like Cheerios. However, both scholarly and non-scholarly literature has been a little divided about whether GMO's are good or not ("Cheerios Alert") Another article that will be briefly touched on was the state of cardiovascular practice in the last twenty or thirty years. Before computers and such, whether someone ate a Big Mac or ate Cheerios was literally the kind of question that would be asked (Biondi-Zoccai).

As for the main question to be answered, it would really have to be whether soluble fiber does indeed help with heart health. To be fair, that is the main question that must be answered to define whether a product that is heavy in soluble fiber (like Cheerios) can boast (even if they do it very carefully) that their product is good for the heart. With that in mind, the first major source that can be pointed to literally just came out and it emanates from China. Wu et al. did a study on the link between dietary fiber intake and the risk of coronary heart disease. Indeed, they say "our results indicate that consumption of dietary fiber is inversely associated with risk of coronary heart disease, especially for fiber from cereals and fruits. Besides, soluble and insoluble fibers have the similar effect. A significant dose response relationship is also observed between fiber intake and CHD risk (Wu et al.). That article would seem to back up the claim of General Mills as it relates to Cheerios and the article specifically singles out… [END OF PREVIEW]

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