It’s National School Breakfast Week this week, which is great news for anyone like me who’s a big fan of the “breakfast like a king” philosophy.  But before you scour the supermarket shelves for something new to try, take a minute to consider the findings of the last Which report, Going Against the Grain in which the leading not-for-profit consumer group analysed the nutritional content of 100 leading breakfast cereals.  The report exposed just how unhealthy most breakfast cereals really are; and what’s particularly alarming is that the worse culprits are the ones that are aimed specifically at children.

Here’s a run down of some of the main points, followed by some healthy breakfast ideas that really are good for you, so you absolutely don’t have to rely on packaged breakfast cereals.

“Of course, we are all ultimately responsible for what we eat, but exercising that responsibility is much harder when products that we thought were healthy, prove to be high in fat, sugar or salt.  Or when we are offered incomplete or disingenuous information, or have our children pester us for less healthy options because of irresponsible promotions.”

The Which report found that:

  • Nearly 60 of the analysed cereals contained more sugar per recommended serving than a jam doughnut
  • 22 of these were cereals that are specifically aimed at children.
  • Out of 100 cereals, they found 31 cereals with more than 4 teaspoons of sugar per portion
  • Morrison’s Honey Nut Corn Flakes have the same amount of salt per serving as a 50g portion of salted peanuts
  • Some of the high sugar cereals were ones that many people would think of as the healthy option such as Kellogg’s All-Bran, Kellogg’s Bran Flakes and Kellogg’s Special K
  • Only one of the cereals marketed to children wasn’t high (wasn’t low either mind!) in sugar (Kellogg’s Rice Krispies) but was still high in salt content
  • Only one cereal out of the 100 analysed got a green traffic light for healthy levels of fat, sugar and salt (Nestle Shredded Wheat)
  • Most less healthy cereals carried nutrition claims – a bowl of Special K surprisingly has the same amount of sugar in it as a serving of Tesco Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake ice cream
  • Some of the cereals analysed still had high salt levels, for example, Tesco Special Flakes contains the same salt per 100g as a 100g packet of salted crisps.

So what’s the alternative?

  • Cereal isn’t always a bad option, you just need to check the labels before you buy, to make sure you know what you’re eating.  Remember that low in fat often means high in sugar; anything that is more than 15 g of sugar per 100 g is high.  Anything that is below 5 g per 100 g is fairly low.  Avoid anything that is too refined; i.e. the cereal should actually look like what it is made  of.
  • Wholegrain toast with poached, boiled or scrambled eggs
  • Chopped fruit salad (you can make this up the night before) with live natural yoghurt and chopped mixed nuts & seeds
  • For a quick healthy breakfast on the run you can combine a healthy cereal bar (Organix Goodies or Lyme Regis Fruitus Bars are really good as they don’t contain any added sugar) with a tub of organic yoghurt and a handful of nuts.
  • Porridge with chopped fruit (just choose whatever takes your fancy; apples, banana, blueberries or strawberries work really well), seeds & a drizzle of manuka honey
  • Unsweetened muesli with a dollop of live yoghurt and chopped strawberries


Hopefully, you’ve been inspired to try something a little different for breakfast tomorrow and make a healthy breakfast a part of your daily routine.



Which Cereals Guide 2009 - Going Against the Grain




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