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Nutrition and Breastfeeding Articles

‘It is hard to know what to believe with so much conflicting nutrition
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Healthy Salad close-up
Breakfast cereals – how do you choose?

Data collection by Victoria Hobbs, Deakin University

Disclaimer – I receive no remuneration from reviewing these brands; this is an unbiased, professional opinion based on a selection, and is not a definitive list.

How many times have you stood in the breakfast cereal aisle overwhelmed by the sheer number of options? So many people say they are confused about what to eat. I am often seen juggling multiple boxes of cereal, analysing the nutrition information in order to give the best advice to my clients, and make sense of it myself. Cereals can provide valuable nutrients such as fibre, vitamins and carbohydrates; though many contain little nutrition and an undesirable amount of sugar and salt. The complex interplay of the ingredients in your cereal could either fuel your performance, or leave you feeling hungry and fatigued early in the day.

Today, I have ranked a range of popular fruit and nut cereals according to their nutritional profiles (fibre, sugar, whole grain content and sodium), to remove the guess work and make healthier = easier. Where does your daily cereal fit into the list and is it time to make a switch?

Best choices

As a general guide, choose cereals that are:

  • Greater than 50% wholegrains – specified on the ingredients list
  • Greater than 10g fibre/100g
  • Less than 400mg sodium/100g
  • 15g sugar/100g – slightly higher is OK if dried fruit included. Note that dried fruit and fruit may contribute to overall sugar content, this is different to refined sugar.
  • Choose untoasted over toasted muesli varieties

Avoid cereals that list sugar, or a variant within the first 3 ingredients (e.g. glucose, dextrose, honey, golden syrup, coconut sugar, barley malt, rice syrup, etc.). Beware health claims – if it sounds too good to be true, it generally is.

So with all of this in mind, the best choices include:

  1. Be Natural Cashew, Almond, Hazelnut & Coconut: the winner with high fibre, 17.1g, low sugar: 12g, and low sodium: 195mg. Top 3 ingredients: wholegrain cereals, nuts, rice – all valuable sources of nutrition.
  2. Be Natural Pink Lady Apple & Flame Raisin: Dried fruit raise the sugar content, but still a good choice – low salt 210mg, high fibre 14.1g, high whole grains, sugars moderate 17.1g –(wholegrain cereals, rice, fruit).
  3. Morning Sun Natural Style Peach & Pecan Muesli: Great muesli choice, high fibre 11.1g, low salt 18mg and sugar 14.4g from dried fruit is considered low-moderate (Wholegrain oats, dried fruit, wheat bran)
  4. Morning Sun Natural Style Apricot & Almond Muesli: Similar to above. Fibre 10.3g, sugars 15.1g, sodium 19mg (wholegrain rolled oats, dried fruits, wheat bran)
  5. Lowan Fruit & Nut Natural Muesli: competes with Morning Sun, a great choice. High fibre 9.7g, moderate sugars 15.5g (from dried fruit), sodium 36mg (Wholegrain oats, dried fruits, wheat bran straws)
  6. Uncle Toby’s Natural Style Swiss Blend Muesli: untoasted, high fibre 10.2g, low salt 14mg, sugar 16.3g – from dried fruit and fruit pieces as 2nd, 3rd ingredients (Rolled Oats (72%), Dried Fruits (16%) [Sultanas (8%))

The next list shows moderate choices – less fibre and/or more sugar. Choose sometimes

  1. Uncle Toby’s O&G Bircher Muesli Cranberry, Almond & Quinoa:moderate fibre 8.1g, low sugar 11.4g, low sodium 11mg, untoasted (Rolled oats, dried fruit, almonds). Add some bran to boost fibre content
  2. Carman’s Natural Bircher Museli: Lower fibre 7.9g, moderate sugar 16g, though than other options. Low sodium 7mg. Top 3 ingredients look good (Wholegrain oats, fruit, nuts). Add bran, LSA, fruit to boost fibre content.
  3. Kellogg’s Special K Fruit & Nut: Moderate fibre 8.1g, high sugar 19.6g, moderate sodium 310mg (Rice, wholegrains, fruit). Better choices above
  4. Uncle Toby’s Plus Fibre Apple and Sultanas: It’s a trade-off, with high fibre 17.9g, but higher sugar content 23.3g, (wholegrain cereals, dried fruit – contributing to high sugar content, wheat bran), low sodium. Either mix this with wholegrain/bran flakes, or choose a different option and add a small amount of your own dried fruit to keep sugars down.
  5. Table of Plenty Macadamia, Cranberry & Coconut Muesli:despite high fibre 10.4g, low sodium 15mg, moderate sugar 17.3g, derived from dried fruit and golden syrup as 2nd, 3rdingredients – not a satisfying choice.
  6. Carman’s Classic Fruit & Nut Muesli: toasted muesli, moderate fibre 8.7g, moderate sugars 15g (despite first ingredient wholegrain oats, with golden syrup in the top 3, this is higher in refined sugars. Choose an untoasted muesli with more nuts and less added sugar.

Lastly, many of these may sound healthy, but are not the best choices for breakfast…high sugar, low fibre, low nutrient contribution and not the best way to start the day.

  1. All Bran Honey Almond: Sounds healthier than it is with All Bran in the title. High fibre 16.1g, but also very high sugar content 23.9g (Wholegrain wheat, wheat bran, sugar), moderate salt 315mg.
  2. Uncle Toby’s Oat Crisp Honey & Macadamia Cereal: Toasted, high sugar 22g – 2nd ingredient Wholegrain cereals, sugar, macadamias), fibre moderate 8g.
  3. Kellogg’s Just Right Cereal: Not really just right, with high sugar 28.7g, note ingredients (Wholegrain cereals, sultanas, sugar), low salt 30mg, high fibre 10.2g. Better choices above
  4. Arnold’s Farm Toasted muesli clusters: Sugar high 19.5g – added as second ingredient (Wholegrain Rolled Oats, Glucose, Oat Bran), steer clear, fibre 8.2g, low sodium 30mg.

For individual advice to optimise your nutrition to fuel your day, come and see Nicole at:
NEST Family Clinic, 289 Kooyong Road, Elsternwick VIC 3185,