Cereals get a pretty bad wrap these days. Sure, the sugar-laden varieties probably deserve it, but not all cereals belong in the ‘no go’ basket. In fact, having cereal for breakfast can be a rather healthy choice. Don’t believe me? Here’s why:
- Wholegrains – breakfast cereals can be a valuable source of wholegrains, which are nutritional superstars in their own right. You see, wholegrains are grains with the bran, endosperm and germ layers of the grain in-tact, so they’re packed with nutrients, antioxidants and gut-friendly fibre – much more than their refined counterparts.|
- Nutrient-dense – breakfast cereals naturally contain a plethora of nutrients, but they can also come fortified, boosting their nutrient content even more. Some common nutrients that are added during manufacturing are B group vitamins which help our body to use energy and iron which transports oxygen to our cells. You should check the ingredients list to find out if your cereal is fortified.
- The additions – when you eat cereal, you don’t just eat cereal. Milk or yoghurt come part and parcel and provide valuable bone-strengthening calcium as well as a boost of protein. If you’re the type of cereal eater who likes to top your breakfast with berries or banana, that’s a win as well, because it boosts the fibre content and helps you on your way to your daily target of two serves of fruit.
- Wallet-friendly – not just good for your body, but your budget, too. Breakfast cereals can be an economical way to start the day. You really can get bang for your buck!
What to look for:
- Wholegrains – more than 50 per cent wholegrain is the way to go.
- High in fibre – use the per 100g column on the nutrition information panel to find a cereal with more than 10g fibre per 100g.
- Low in sugar – sugar is one of the main reasons that people think cereals are unhealthy. A simple trick is to scan the ingredients list and make sure sugar isn’t a main contributor. You should also take a look at nutrition information panel and choose a cereal with less than 15g of sugar per 100g.
- Health Star Rating – this is a great tool to use to compare similar products. The only downside is that it’s an optional rating, so you won’t find it on every product. If it’s there, it’s a simple tool to use: the more stars a product has, the healthier it is.
With all of this in mind, some of my top recommendations are:
- Weet-Bix – the old Aussie faithful. Weet-Bix are a humble, thrifty option – costing just over 10 cents per serve.
- Guardian – this cereal also contains psyllium, which can help to reduce cholesterol.
- All-Bran – another fantastic choice. Pair it with yoghurt or milk for a wholesome breakfast on its own, or sprinkle over the top of other cereals to boost the fibre content.
- Carman’s Gourmet Porridge Sachets Natural 5 Grain and Super Seed – as mornings start to get cooler, you’re probably searching for something a little heartier. This is an excellent option that will warm you up from the inside.
- Sunsol 10+ Natural Muesli – for those who like a muesli style breakfast instead. This oat-based muesli is packed with nuts and seeds, so you’ll get a boost of muscle-building protein and heart-healthy fats as well.
- Freedom Foods Barley+ – another muesli style breakfast with the added bonus of barley, this makes for one nutritious breakfast.
What to avoid…
You can probably guess the cereals I’d suggest to avoid. You know, the dessert-for-breakfast style chocolate flavoured balls and sugar-coated rings or flakes… If these are the cereals you’d prefer to eat instead, think of them as a treat food to enjoy occasionally and in small amounts only. There’s definitely better breakfast choices.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can follow her @honest_nutrition.
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