Choosing a cereal can be confusing — store shelves are bursting with colourful boxes, many of which are packed with sugar. Dietitian Brooke Longfield has the scoop on sugar in breakfast blends.
Did you know that some breakfast cereals have the sugar of two to three sweet biscuits in just one serve? Starting the day with a satisfying meal has many important health benefits, but with so many flakes, clusters and oats on offer, finding the best brekkie can be tricky.
The main problem is that the nutrition panel shows the cereal’s sugar content in grams as a total, yet the sugar in cereals can come from many different ingredients. Some varieties contain naturally sweet dried fruit, which delivers valuable fibre as well as vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, the nutrition panel doesn’t distinguish between this sugar and added sugars, such as honey and table sugar, which are less nutritious.
As a general rule, a cereal with fewer than 15g of sugar per 100g is a healthy choice. If the blend contains dried fruit, aim for under 25g per 100g. You can also read the ingredients list — the sweet stuff can’t hide there. If sugar’s one of the first three things on that list, the cereal’s likely to be a less-than-healthy choice.
Serving sizes count, too. Many of us shake the same amount of cereal into our bowl every day, whether we’re having chunky clusters or light flakes. Mueslis and granolas are dense, so cup for cup, they provide ore kilojoules than flaky cereals do. A healthy serve of muesli is sually less than half a cup, which can look pretty small in a big reakfast bowl! Always check the recommended serving size on the packet, as this varies widely among brands.
To show you how much sugar some breakfast cereals contain, we’ve compared teaspoons and used a standard measure of one metric cup for consistency. Are you starting the day with sugar?