Breakfast Cereals - how to choose?
Choosing which breakfast cereal to buy at the supermarket can be a hard decision – you have to factor in whether your children will like it, the price and the nutritional value. Cereal is a great morning choice as it provides energy in the form of carbohydrates and can be a good source of fibre and of course, if you have it with milk or yoghurt it provides calcium and protein....perfect!!!
When making your decision, look at the nutrition information panel and use the following criteria to help you make your choice:
More than 6g of fibre per 100g:
Dietary fibre is an essential nutrient required for digestive health and for alleviating constipation. It’s not mandatory to declare dietary fibre on a nutrition information panel unless the manufacturer claims the product is a ‘good source of fibre’ or is ‘high in fibre’. In this instance the level of dietary fibre must be included in the nutrition information panel. Generally speaking, if the cereal has a high fibre content the manufacturer is likely to declare this, as it’s a selling point for the cereal.
High fibre breakfast cereals are generally those made from grains and / or bran and / or oats such as muesli, bran flakes, San Bran, All Bran and rolled oats (porridge).
NOTE: Avoid offering very high fibre cereals to children as their immature digestive systems may struggle to cope with the bulk and it will fill them up too much!
Less than 10g of sugar per 100g or if the cereal contains fruit, less than 15g of sugar per 100g:
Fruit contains natural sugar so cereals top heavy with fruit will therefore have greater sugar contents. Muesli and lighter blends such as Light’n’Tasty or Just Right contain fruit in the form of dried raisins, apricots, sultanas, berries and apple. Some porridge varieties contain fruit – generally raisins or apple so sugar levels will be slightly higher compared to unflavoured porridge. If it’s flavoured with honey, sugar levels will be raised as honey is a natural source of sugar.
Weet-Bix, Wheat Biskits, and Vita Brits are great breakfast choices – not only are they low in sugar, they’re low fat and provide a good source of fibre.
Less than 10g of fat per 100g:
Toasted muesli options are the main culprits for containing high levels of fat as they’re toasted in oil, which raises the fat profile. Where possible choose untoasted or natural muesli varieties to reduce your fat intake.
If the cereal contains nuts the total fat content may be high but remember nuts are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (the ‘good’ types). Cereals containing chocolate and yoghurt coated balls provide unnecessary fat and energy so reserve for occasional breakfasts – not for daily consumption.
Other things to look for:
Some cereals will be promoted as containing additional vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron and Vitamin B. This puts a healthy spin on the cereal but be mindful as they can be low in nutritional value, such as high in sugar and low in fibre. These claims are targeted at parents into thinking they’re a better option that what they really are!
Sodium (salt) levels can creep up which is surprising as cereals don’t generally taste salty. Salt is added in the manufacturing process and levels vary in cereals so it pays to check out the nutrition information panel for exact levels.
Yum Yum Kids Tip:
Whatever cereal you end up choosing – don’t just reserve it for breakfast. Cereals make great snacks – as a mid-morning boost or an after dinner ‘gap filler’…and by the time you add milk or yoghurt and fruit you have a very complete nutritious meal.