Staying Regular With Bran Flakes

The first modern commercial breakfast cereals were created by the American Seventh-day Adventists. The Adventists formed the Western Health Reform Institute in the 1860s. The Institute was later renamed the Battle Creek Sanitarium after its location in Battle Creek, Michigan. The Adventists manufactured, promoted, and sold whole-grain cereals.

Cereal grains are member of the grass plant family, with starchy seeds used for food. Bran is the outer layer of grains like rice, corn, wheat, or barley. It’s also the part of the grain that is the most nutrient dense, and contains protein, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, and antioxidants.

Doctor John Harvey Kellogg, the superintendent of The Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan and an Adventist, was trying to improve the diet of hospital patients. He was searching for a digestible bread substitute using the process of boiling wheat. Kellogg accidentally left a pot of boiled wheat to stand and the wheat became tempered (softened). When Kellogg rolled the tempered or softened wheat and let it dry, each grain of wheat emerged as a large thin flake. The flakes turned out to be a tasty cereal. Kellogg had invented corn flakes. On May 31, 1884, John Harvey Kellogg filed for patent for “flaked cereals and process of preparing same.” Patent #558,393 was issued on April 14, 1896.

Dr. Harvey’s brother, Will Keith Kellogg, founded the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 1906. Kellog’s 40% Bran Flakes is a high-fiber, wheat bran breakfast cereal marketed as an aid to digestive health. It was introduced in 1915 in the United States, followed in 1916 by the introduction of All Bran in a red and green packet, similar to most Kellogg’s cereals. All-Bran was introduced in the United Kingdom  in 1922.

The Postum Cereal Company introduced Post 40% Bran Flakes cereal in 1922. The Postum Company became part of the General Foods Corporation, which in turn joined forces with Kraft Foods, who currently own the Post Cereal brands. The early slogan for this cereal was “Life is swell… when you keep well.” Ads promoted Post’s 40% Bran Flakes as having three extra benefits over existing cereals:

  1. Your Daily Bulk – because it contained bran, “a natural regulator to help protect against sluggishness due to lack of bulk in your daily diet”
  2. Valuable Food Essentials – because it was made with “sun-ripened wheat” and supplied you with “phosphorous for the teeth and bones… iron for the blood… and Vitamin G!”
  3. Thiamine Generously Added – this was touted as “a third extra benefit at no extra cost.

A 1934 ad for the Post 40% Bran Flakes suggested that “feeling slow, low and generally no good” might caused by “a sluggish intestine” and hinted that Post 40% Bran Flakes could increase “Git-Up-And-Go”. According to the ad, “a lot of people are inclined to call (this cereal) the most delicious cereal they know.”

By 1936, Kellogs was claiming that All-Bran could clear your complexion because it cleared your intestines of toxins. It claimed it could transform an unhappy person into a cheerful person, due to curing their constipation and purging their intestines of toxins.

From 1942 until 1945, Kelloggs produced K-rations for the U.S. armed forces overseas during World War II. They also introduced Kellogg’s Raisin Bran.

In the 1970s, renowned physician Denis Burkitt launched his “Bran Hypothesis.” He studied people in rural Africa and discovered that, thanks to their high-fiber diets, people had fewer hernias, hemorrhoids, cases of diverticulitis and other gastrointestinal diseases, as well as lower rates of diabetes and heart disease.

The 1981 James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only features a product placement of All-Bran, in the kitchen cabinet of 10 Downing Street.

In the late 1980’s, Kellogg’s changed the name from “40% Bran Flakes” to “40+ Bran Flakes” to grab a larger portion of the 40-plus market. The name change was challenged by The Iowa Attorney General’s Office under the reasoning that there was no indication that people over 40 have dietary needs different from those of people under 40.

The good: Bran flakes are widely available, so if you are traveling, All-Bran might be one of the healthier breakfast items available. It is also fortified with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

The bad: In the US, many commercial brands of bran flakes contain high-fructose corn syrup, a controversial and unnecessary ingredient.

The ugly: Many brands of commercial bran flakes  also contain vitamin D3, which is usually made from lanolin (sheep oil), so it is not vegan.

The alternative: You might want to substitute an organic, vegan breakfast cereal like Nature’s Path Organic Smart Bran, Psyllium & Oatbran Cereal. One half cup of Nature’s Path Organic Smart Bran cereal contains 13 grams of fiber, or 52% of Daily Value (DV). You can get your vitamin B12 from fortified soy milk or a supplement, and you can get your vitamin D from sunshine or a supplement.

Cereals made from whole wheat bran, without added sugar or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, are a good source of whole grains that are high in fiber, folate, other B vitamins, and potassium. Because of their high fiber content, they are usually very filling.

Post Bran Flakes contain: Whole grain wheat, wheat bran, sugar, wheat flour, malted barley flour, salt, BHT added to Packaging material to preserve product freshness. reduced ironniacinamidezinc oxide, vitamin B6, vitamin A palmitate, riboflavin (vitamin B2), thiamin mononitrate (vitamin B1), folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.

Nature’s Path Organic Smart Bran, Psyllium & Oatbran Cereal contains the following ingredients: Organic wheat bran, organic oat fiber, organic evaporated cane juice, organic psyllium seed husk, organic barley malt extract, organic oat bran, organic whole oat flour, sea salt.

Nutrients in 3/4 Cup (30 Grams) Bran Flakes Cereal, fortified





1.1 mg



8.1 mg



99.9 µg



5 mg


vitamin B12

1.5 µg


vitamin B6

0.5 mg



0.4 mg



0.4 mg



5.3 g



64.2 mg


vitamin A

750 IU



152 mg


vitamin D

30.9 IU



1.5 mg



0.2 mg



220 mg



24.1 g



2.8 g



185 mg






3.2 µg


pantothenic acid

0.3 mg



16.8 mg



0.7 g


vitamin K

0.4 µg


vitamin E

0.3 mg


vitamin C

0 mg



0 mg


Just make sure to eat your bran flakes cereal with a plant-based milk, like soy, rice, hemp, almond, cashew, or oat milk.

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