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Are breakfast cereals good for us?

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

Breakfast is regarded as the most important meal of the day and certainly can be the one meal that is rushed, with very little thought given to what is actually eaten. Breakfast cereals are the most commonly eaten food for breakfast, with a staggering 13.1 million people eating cereal as their breakfast choice. But, are cereals good for us?


What are breakfast cereals?

Breakfast cereal is made from processed grains and are often fortified with vitamins and minerals. It is commonly eaten with milk, yogurt, fruit or nuts.


Here’s how breakfast cereals are typically made:

  1. Processing. The grains are usually processed into fine flour and cooked.

  2. Mixing. The flour is then mixed with ingredients like sugar, cocoa, and water.

  3. Extrusion. Many breakfast cereals are produced via extrusion, a high-temperature process that uses a machine to shape the cereal.

  4. Drying. Next, the cereal is dried.

  5. Shaping. Finally, the cereal is shaped into forms, such as balls, stars, loops or rectangles.

Breakfast cereals may also be puffed, flaked, or shredded, or even coated in chocolate or frosting before it is finally dried.


The sugar

Added sugar maybe the single worst ingredient in the modern diet. As mentioned in previous blogs, it can contribute to several chronic diseases. Notably, most of the sugar we eat comes from processed foods and breakfast cereals, which makes the food taste good.


Most cereals list sugar as the second or third ingredient. Starting the day with a high-sugar breakfast cereal will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels. A few hours later, your blood sugar may crash, and your body will crave another high-carb meal or snack, potentially creating a vicious cycle of overeating and poor food choices.


Breakfast cereals are marketed as healthy with box labels featuring health claims like: “low-fat” or “whole-grain.” Yet, their first listed ingredients are often refined grains and the sugar. Small amounts of whole grains do not make these products healthy.


Making a good choice:

  1. Sugar. Try to choose a breakfast cereal which has 5g or less of sugar.

  2. Go for the fibre. Choose a cereal that has at least 3g of fibre. This will help your digestive system and leave you feeling fuller for longer. Oats with fruit is always a good option.

  3. Pay attention to the portion size and even measure it out using scales.

  4. Add some extra protein. This will make you feel fuller and helps to slow down digestion. Greek yogurt or a handful of nuts or seeds are good choices for that extra protein.

  5. Read the ingredients. Ignore the health claims on the front of the box and read the ingredients list. The first two or three ingredients are most important, as they comprise the majority of the cereal.

Keep breakfast simple and avoid anything that is overly processed or rich in sugar.


Happy eating!




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