The simple act of eating breakfast cereal every morning could contribute to a reduction in heart disease, according to recent research.

The latest report card on Australia’s health shows that three quarters of people over the age of 45, and half those under 45 have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This includes 5.6 million Australians with high cholesterol levels, an alarming 90% of whom don’t know they have it.1

The good news is that taking just five minutes in the morning to sit down to a simple bowl of breakfast cereal and milk can help, with scientific research showing that breakfast cereal eaters generally have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.2,3

In a recent review of 45 years of research, the American Society of Nutrition found that people who eat foods rich in cereal fibre or mixtures of wholegrains and bran are significantly less likely to develop cardiovascular disease.4 This finding is backed up in the evidence report for the recently released Australian Dietary Guidelines, which found that consumption of cereals is associated with around a 30% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.5

So, how does breakfast cereal help?

Lower Cholesterol: Research shows that breakfast cereal eaters are more likely to have lower LDL or bad cholesterol than non-cereal eaters.2 And, it isn’t because regular breakfast cereal eaters have lower overall energy intakes throughout the day, or that they tend to be more active – the findings remain even after adjusting for these variables.

Leigh Reeve, Director of the Australian Breakfast Cereals Manufacturers Forum and Accredited Practising Dietitian says, “One of the reasons breakfast cereals can help to lower cholesterol is because they tend to be higher in fibre and wholegrains than other breakfast options.”

A new study published in the August 2013 issue of Nutrition Today showed that two simple daily changes – switching to a high fibre breakfast cereal and choosing a high fibre snack – means that people can double their fibre intake without increasing kilojoules.6

Healthier Weight: Excess weight is also a risk factor for heart disease, and according to the latest data Australians have gained on average more than 5cm on our waistlines over the past 12 years, with women and younger people being the worst offenders.7

Studies consistently show that people who eat breakfast cereal regularly tend to have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) and are less likely to be overweight.8,9

“Despite these very good reasons to eat breakfast cereal, only a quarter of Australian adults eat it every day. We know that breakfast cereal can be a great quick and nutritious option that can help with heart health. It’s time to make time for a healthy bowl every morning,” said Ms Reeve.


  1. ABS (2013) Australian Health Survey: Biomedical Results for Chronic Diseases, 2011–12 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.005)
  2. Franko DL, Alebertson AM, Thompson DR, Barton BA. Cereal consumption and indicators of cardiovascular risk in adolescent girls. Public Health Nutr. 2011 Apr; 14 (4):584-90
  3. C.R. McGill, L.M. Sanders, K.B. Miller, V.L. Fulgoni III. Breakfast and ready-to-eat cereal consumption are associated with improved markers of cardiometabolic health in adults: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001 – 2008. J Aging Res Clin Practice 2013;2(2):168-173.
  4. Cho SS et al, Consumption of cereal fiber, mixtures of whole grains and bran, and whole grains and risk reduction in type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013.
  5. NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) (2011). A review of the evidence to address targeted questions to inform the revision of the Australian Dietary Guidelines
  6. Hornick, Betsy MS, RD; Birkett, Anne PhD; Liska, DeAnn PhD. The Fiber Deficit, Part 3-Beyond Traditional Fiber Sources: The Role of Adding Fiber to Food in Improving Fiber Intakes. Nutrition Today. 2013 Volume 48 – Issue 4 – p 168-173.,_Part_3_Beyond_Traditional_Fiber.7.aspx
  7. Tanamas SK, Magliano DJ, Lynch B, Sethi P, Willenberg L, Polkinghorne KR, Chadban S, Dunstan D, Shaw JE. AusDiab 2012. The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study. Melbourne: Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute 2013. IDI Ausdiab Report_interactive_FINAL.pdf
  8. De la Hunty, A., Ashwell, M. 2007. Are people who regularly eat breakfast cereals slimmer than those who don´t? A systematic review of the evidence. Nutrition Bulletin. V32-I2: 118-28.
  9. Rampersaud G.C., Periera, M.A., Girard, B.L., Adams, J. And Metzl, J.D. (2005) Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight and academic performance in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 105:743-760.

For more information: Leigh Reeve. Director ABCMF

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