How much sugar is in breakfast cereal?

Breakfast cereals contribute only a small amount of the sugars Australians consume and some of this comes from fruit ingredients. The latest data shows that around 3-5% of the total daily sugars intake of Australian children comes from breakfast cereal. Importantly, breakfast cereals provide more than 20% children’s intakes of thiamin, riboflavin, folate and iron, plus 13% of their daily fibre.21,25

In Australia, a serve of sweetened breakfast cereal will have a maximum sugars content that is similar to many other nutrient dense foods like 125ml of orange juice, or a piece of fruit, or a small tub of sweetened low fat fruit yoghurt (150ml).19

What is the Glycemic Index?

Glycemic Index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate in foods based on the rate it breaks down in the intestine, is absorbed into the bloodstream and metabolised inside our bodies. It is not necessary to eat only low GI foods. Aim to eat at least one low GI carbohydrate containing food at each meal and base snacks on low GI foods.

For breakfast you can:

  • choose low GI breakfast cereals.
  • choose breakfast cereals based on traditional oats, psyllium or bran.
  • eat breakfast cereals along with low GI foods like milk, yoghurt, and fruit to help lower the overall GI of your breakfast meal.

Contact the manufacturer to check the GI of your favourite breakfast cereals.

How much salt is in breakfast cereal?

Salt (sodium chloride) is sometimes added to breakfast cereals to enhance the flavour and texture.

Breakfast cereals contribute only minor amount of the salt we eat. In fact recent data26,27 shows breakfast cereals only contribute about 2% of Australians total sodium intake.

Australian manufacturers have been gradually reducing the salt content of breakfast cereals for over a decade28 and many reduced sodium even further during 2013 as part of the Australian Government’s Food and Health Dialogue.

If you have a medically prescribed low sodium diet, we recommend seeking specialist advice on low sodium breakfast cereals from an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

How important is fibre and wholegrain breakfast cereal?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend adults aged 19-70 eat at least 4-6 serves of grain or cereal foods every day. Aim to make at least half of your grain foods wholegrain or higher fibre choices (i.e. 2-3 serves per day). Choose wholegrain or high fibre breakfast cereals and breakfast cereals with oats barley or bran.

You also have room for some of refined grain foods each day – choose nutrient dense options – breakfast cereals are a great example.

How do I know which breakfast cereal right for me?

If you are sensitive to particular grain foods, it’s important to get professional advice on which grains foods are best for you.

It is important to keep eating grain foods because they:

  • are nutrient dense, and provide important dietary fibre
  • help protect your health, and
  • may also assist with satiety and weight management.

For information about breakfast cereal and allergies, gluten-free foods, food intolerances or irritable bowel syndrome, we recommend seeking the advice of an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Is breakfast cereal good for weight loss?

Eating breakfast, and especially eating breakfast cereal, is associated with being slimmer and having a lower Body Mass Index (BMI).1,7-9, 29

When you are eating fewer kilojoules to lose weight, it is even more important to eat nutrient dense foods like breakfast cereal that can give you plenty of vitamins, minerals and fibre in a modest number of kilojoules.

To lose weight successfully, include breakfast cereal regularly as part of your weight loss plans. Skipping breakfast doesn’t work.

Is breakfast cereal high in fat?

Breakfast cereals are typically low in fat.5.6,20 Ingredients in breakfast cereals that can contribute to the fat content include wholegrains, nuts, seeds, and occasionally added fat.

How do I avoid artificial colours and flavours in my breakfast cereal?

You can select Australian-made breakfast cereals without artificial colours and flavours or with only natural colours and flavours. Contact the manufacturer to check the colours and flavours in your favourite breakfast cereals.

However, if you have a medically prescribed diet that requires avoiding specific food colours or flavours (either natural or artificial) we recommend you seek expert advice from an  Accredited Practising Dietitian on which breakfast cereals that are best for you.

Does breakfast cereal include GMO ingredients?

Most manufacturers aim to use non-GMO ingredients wherever possible. Contact the manufacturer to check your favourite brand of breakfast cereal if you have any questions about GMOs.


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