The breakfast 'flake' most commonly associated with corn flakes was invented by Dr John Harvey Kellogg (founder of Kellogg's) in the 1890s, and it was intended as a health food made specifically for patients of a 'health resort'.
Times have changed, and we now have a smorgasbord of options at breakfast time. The health profile of flakes has probably changed a bit since then as well – in our analysis of 23 flake products we found that many come with plenty of added sugars and salt for flavour.
Read on to find out which flakes are better for you than others, which are the cheapest, and more.
Here are the top performing flake cereals based on Health Star Rating (HSR), lowest estimated added sugar per 100g and lowest sodium per 100g.
Kellogg's All-Bran Wheat Flakes
- Price: $1.82 per 100g
- Health Star Rating: 5
- Estimated added sugar: 10.8g per 100g
- Sodium: 360mg per 100g
- Claims on pack: Very high in fibre to support a healthy gut, supports digestive wellness, helps you feel fuller, promotes regularity and good gut bacteria, supports digestive health.
- Price: $1.94 per 100g
- Health Star Rating: 5
- Estimated added sugar: 12.6g
- Sodium: 200mg per 100g
- Claims on pack: 97% fat free, 63% whole grains, supports digestive wellness, helps you feel fuller, promotes regularity and good gut bacteria, no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, four essential B vitamins, zinc and iron, 25% of your daily fibre needs, psyllium to stimulate the breakdown of cholesterol, helps to support heart health.
Uncle Tobys Weeties
- Price: $1.00 per 100g
- Health Star Rating: 4.5
- Estimated added sugar: 0g per 100g
- Sodium: 375mg per 100g
- Claims on pack: All natural wheat, source of fibre, over 60% of your daily wholegrain target, no artificial colours or flavours, source of wholegrain, 99% wholegrain.
When you're watching your salt intake you don't expect to find a large amount in your breakfast bowl.
The average sodium content from this category is over 300mg per 100g. To put these figures into perspective, a McDonald's large fries has 269mg salt per 100g and a Big Mac has 438mg per 100g.
The flakes we assessed have an average 11.4g estimated added sugar per 100g – more than some kids-style breakfast cereals
If your bowl of flakes is no larger than the portion size stated on the pack then you won't exceed the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommendation of less than 400mg sodium per 100g.
But the guidelines also say that 120mg or less is best. Of the flakes we looked at, the only ones that meet this level are Woolworths Honey Nut Corn Flakes at 120mg per 100g, and Coles I'm Free From Gluten Wheat Special Flakes at 119mg per 100g.
The flakes with more than 400mg of sodium per 100g are:
- Kellogg's Gluten Free Corn Flakes (510mg sodium per 100g)
- Kellogg's Gluten Free Special K (500mg)
- Kellogg's Corn Flakes (485mg)
- Nature's Path Gluten Free Corn Flakes (425mg).
When it comes to sugar, the flakes we assessed have an average 11.4g estimated added sugar per 100g. By way of comparison, some kids-style breakfast cereals have less than this – and kids' cereals are the ones with the bad reputation for added sugars!
For example, you'd be better off having Uncle Tobys Cheerios Vanilla O's (4g sugar per 100g) than Kellogg's Corn Flakes (8.9g per 100g) if you're watching your added sugar.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend we avoid foods with more than 15% added sugar. We found four flakes products that exceed this recommendation:
- Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes (31.3% estimated added sugar)
- Woolworths Honey Nut Corn Flakes (22.5%)
- Kellogg's High Fibre Special K (20.6%)
- Goldenvale Honey Nut Cornflakes (20.3%).
Oats are rich in beta-glucan, a soluble fibre that helps keep your blood cholesterol down. They're also low GI, which means their carbohydrate is slowly absorbed into your system, providing you with energy for hours after you've eaten. And they're packed with B vitamins, vitamin E, protein and minerals. Eating oats is also associated with protective effects against heart disease in adults.
While corn flakes can be part of a varied healthy diet, the added sodium and sugars in some products and the lack of the benefits exclusive to oats can make them a less healthy breakfast option compared to oats overall.
The most expensive flake product in our review is the Nature's Path Gluten Free Corn Flakes, which costs $3.33 per 100g, or $1.25 per serve. This can really add up if the family is scoffing bowlfuls every morning – to the tune of $456.25 per year per person, just for breakfast cereal!
Coles Corn Flakes are cheap at only 13 cents per serve, but they aren't the healthiest option.
Even Australia's OG flake, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, are $1.59 per 100g, or 58c per serve (and that's provided your teenage boys stick to the recommended six servings per packet).
If you're trying to cut back on your grocery bills but you also want a flake breakfast cereal that's nutritious, the supermarket own-brand flakes have you covered here.
Coles Corn Flakes in particular are a bargain, costing just 40c per 100g or 13 cents per serve, but have a Health Star Rating of 3.5.
Although double the cost of the Coles product at 80c per 100g, the Woolworths Free From Gluten Corn Flakes are still cheaper than premium-branded options and have a Health Star Rating of 4.
The flake cereals' packaging was collected in November 2022. We analysed the nutrition information panels and recorded Health Star Ratings. Where the product did not have a labelled HSR, we estimated it based on the nutritional information that was available on the pack. The estimated added sugars per 100g were received from the George Institute for Global Health's FoodSwitch team.
We ranked the flake cereals by Health Star Rating, added sugars per 100g, and then sodium per 100g.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.