Q. “I feel so confused when looking at the breakfast cereals on the shelf. How do I find a healthy one, or are they all full of sugar?”
– Susan, via email
A. Karissa Woolfe, Healthy Food Guide Accredited Practising Dietitian, responds:
Breakfast cereals have copped a bad rap lately, so it’s no wonder you’re feeling confused. While some cereals are sweetened with added sugars, many nutritious varieties are available.
New research has found Australians are currently eating only half the recommended amount of cereal fibre — something which helps protect you against heart disease and also type 2 diabetes. All the more reason to put a bowl of cereal back on the menu!
Here’s what to look out for when shopping:
The less refined the cereal, the more intact you’ll find the grains — think traditional rolled oats and groats. This means more vitamins, minerals and fibre, and a lower glycaemic index (GI), which evidence suggests helps to maintain blood glucose levels, control your appetite and assist with weight management.
Look for key words on the ingredients list
The words ‘whole grain’ are promising, but keep an eye out for hidden sugars including: sucrose, fruit juice concentrate and any type of syrup (glucose, malt, maple, golden or corn).
Compare the different brands
The ‘per 100g’ column on a pack’s nutrition info panel helps the savvy shopper. Look for products with more than 5g fibre and less than 15g sugar per 100g (up to 25g sugar per 100g if the cereal has dried fruit). Also keep an eye out for the low-GI symbol on the front of pack.