Breakfast is definitely a good idea. If you don’t eat breakfast you’ll likely be hungry mid-morning. If you’re out or at work, finding a healthy snack may not be as easy as having a healthy breakfast at home. Several studies have also suggested that children who skip breakfast tend to be fatter than those who don’t, and there’s some evidence to suggest that eating breakfast improves kids’ learning ability.
What makes a good cereal?
- The best breakfast is something high in carbohydrate, to provide fuel to get you through the morning, which is why cereal is a good place to start.
- It should ideally be high in fibre — adults should eat about 30 grams of fibre a day — and a good breakfast cereal will deliver a decent whack of your daily needs.
- What you don’t want in a breakfast cereal is a lot of fat, sugar and salt.
Mueslis tend to be intrinsically higher in fat than other cereals, but it's mainly the 'good' unsaturated type from the oats, seeds and nuts they invariably contain.
- If a muesli has 10% fat or more, check the ingredients list to see where the fat comes from — the higher up the ingredients list the nuts and seeds are, the better.
- Many breakfast cereals also have a lot of added vitamins and minerals. They can be a good source of vitamins such as B1, B2, niacin and folate, and minerals such as iron. However, it’s more important when choosing a cereal to base your shortlist on high fibre and low fat, salt and sugar before you consider vitamins and minerals.
Top sellers fall short
Only one of the top 10 selling cereals (for 2009) gets our thumbs-up as a good breakfast. Most others contain too little fibre or too much sugar.
Want to know more? Check out the full report on Breakfast cereals and our muesli test.
Kids get a raw deal with breakfast cereals. Most kids' cereals are so highly processed they no longer resemble the grain they started out as. The majority are either too salty or too sugary, and/or have too little fibre to be recommended for every day. Kids need less fibre than adults, but a cereal with a moderate amount is still a better choice for them than little or none. As a guide, kids need their age plus 5-10 grams per day. For example, a five-year-old should eat 10-15 g a day.
About the best that can be said for most kids’ cereals is that they’re better than no breakfast at all, and the vitamins and minerals as well as the calcium from the milk are a bonus.