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  Every non-organic cereal in the supermarket contains BHT. Is this safe to eat if it is the last ingredient? Also, can you please tell me which whole wheat, heart-healthy cereals are the safest to consume?

  Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and the related compound butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are phenolic compounds that are often added to foods to preserve fats. BHT prevents oxidative rancidity of fats. It is used to preserve food odor, color, and flavor. Both BHA and BHT are on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's "GRAS" (Generally Recognized as Safe) list.

In their natural state, grains (such as wheat) have three parts: 1) Bran, the hard outer "skin", which is rich in fiber, protein, and B vitamins; 2) Germ, the part of the seed that would sprout a new plant, which is also rich in vitamins; and 3) Endosperm, the largest, starchy part of the kernel, which provides carbohydrates, some protein, iron, and B vitamins.

Whole grain cereals include all three parts of the kernel, making them high in nutrients, fiber, and protein. Refined cereals (anything that is not "whole wheat" or "whole grain") remove the bran and the germ, leaving just the starchy endosperm. Cereals made with added bran may contain more fiber than whole grain cereals, but they can be hard to digest.

The best cereal choices include those that have little or no sugar, zero trans fats, and some fiber. I recommend Post 100% Bran, Kellogg's All-Bran, and General Mills Chex Multi-Bran. Other good choices include General Mills Cheerios, Post Grape Nuts, and Kellogg's Just Right with Fruit & Nuts.

Tanya Jolliffe, Babyfit healthy eating expert


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