Comparing Breakfast Options

All-Natural Processed Heavenly Bliss

If it crunches, is it natural?

That’s what several members wrote to ask after I quoted William Campbell Douglass, II, M.D., in the e-Alert “X Marks the Spot” (4/15/04).

Dr. Douglass compared Quaker Oats (‘Old Fashioned – 100% natural’) with McCann’s steel-cut, Irish oatmeal (made in Ireland). He said, “They don’t even look like the same grain! And the taste difference is remarkable – Quakers is mushy, McCann’s is crunchy. Once you go natural, you will never turn back.”

A member named Gustaw was confused by the use of the word “natural.” He writes, “My immediate reaction is for the crunchy oats, but ‘steel-cut’ tells me nothing. I would not be inclined to buy something ‘mushy,’ except that it is described as ‘old-fashioned 100% NATURAL.’ So, which, for heaven’s sake, is supposed to be the natural good stuff? For me, ‘crunchy’ and ‘100% natural’ would/should go together.”

As so many products do these days, Quaker Oats throws up the word “natural,” while not exactly addressing “nutrition,” which is what Dr. Douglass is really talking about. You (and Gustaw) can be certain that the Quaker Oats “Old Fashioned – 100 % natural” is not as nutritious as the McCann’s. And the steel cutting makes all the difference.

When the inner oat kernels are steel cut, they’re divided into only a few pieces. And that’s the full extent of the processing. Quaker Oats, on the other hand, are steamed, then rolled, then steamed again and finally toasted. So while they really are “100% natural,” nutrition is lost in the extra processing.

Of course, this only applies to the Quaker Oats in the familiar cylinder-shaped box. The Quaker Oats cereal brands known as “Honey Nut Heaven” and “Brown Sugar Bliss” are worlds away from the truly natural source of fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron and calcium you’ll find in steel-cut oats.

As Dr. Douglass points out; if you start your day with typical breakfast cereals, you’ll be heading down the road to obesity and diabetes, no matter how many times they print the word “natural” on the box.