They don’t call breakfast the most important meal of the day for nothing. Get it right and you can dose up on fibre, B vitamins and other nutrients. Also, having a meal in the morning is good for pleasant breath because it clears the stinky bacteria that can gather at the back of the throat. Oh, have we got your attention now?
And while there are plenty of healthy ways to start the day – porridge being our preferred option, and there’s always a place for eggs and toast – cereals offer a temptingly tasty, zero-faff option. But beware of filling your bowl with whatever’s to hand: many cereals contain high levels of fat, sugar and salt. Fortunately, we’ve done some out-of-the-box thinking by, um, reading the outside of the box to work out which cereals are truly worth getting out of bed for. But first…
What Makes A Breakfast Cereal Healthy?
Wholegrains contain the fibre you’re almost certainly not getting enough of, and B vitamins which are difficult to find elsewhere.
You’ll find lots of cereal boxes love banging on about being made with wholegrains – but when you check, the proportions can be disappointingly low. That’s why it’s always worth checking.
Low fat, sugar and salt
It’s essential we get fat, sugar and salt into our bodies… but not too much. Aim for cereals that are low in all three of those ingredients and avoid any that are high in any one of them. There’s no need to know what counts as low and high – there’s a traffic light system you’ll find on the boxes.
The NHS recommends that you have roughly 400 calories for breakfast, which should include any drinks and pieces of fruit on the side (hey, you deserve a sweet, juicy treat in the morning). The trick here is to check out the calories per portion size, then check what the portion size is and – you’ll hate us for saying this – actually measure it out using scales. You’ll only need to do this once because the disbelief when faced with what a portion actually is will be etched on your memory forever. Remember, no cereal is healthy if you overeat it.
The Best Healthy Cereals For Breakfast
The Rude Health breakfast range is extensive enough that most people should find something they like here – whether that’s a healthier take on classic cereals like puffed brown rice or spelt flakes, or one of the variety of granolas, mueslis and porridges available. Aside from Ultimate Granola, everything in the range is entirely plant-based, and while some options are higher in sugar and calories than others – particularly the granola – you’ll find options to suit any morning macronutrient goal. The range is stocked in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Planet Organic among others, or you can buy direct from the Rude Health website.
Buy from Rude Health | From £2.10
If you want to give your tummy a real treat in the morning, opt for Bio&Me’s gut-loving granolas. There are four options in the range, all of which are full of fibre, with around 8g per 60g serving. The key to good health doesn’t just lie in consuming loads of one type of fibre though, so each bowl of Bio&Me contains 15 ingredients, giving your diet the diversity that’s vital for a healthy gut biome. Bio&Me has impressive credentials to back up its health claims too – the granola has been approved by the European Food Safety Authority, which checks that such claims are based on robust scientific evidence.
Buy from Bio&Me | £3.99 for 390g
This healthy wholegrain cereal has been knocking around since 1897, so there’s no excuse for not having tried it yet. Each 45g bowl of Grape-Nuts, which contain no grapes and no nuts are in fact kernels of wholegrain flour with added vitamins, contains 5g of protein, 5.8g of fibre, and just 3.9g of sugar, 0.9 of fat and 160 calories. You cannot argue with stats like those. grapenuts.com
Lizi’s Low Sugar Granola
Granola is many people’s preferred healthy option because it tastes so deliciously sweet. Of course, that’s because many varieties are crammed full of sugar. Natural sugars mostly, sure, but it’s still something to keep tabs on. You can eat this granola without a care, however, since it’s very low in sugar – just 1.9g in a 50g portion– and it packs in a healthy 4.9g of fibre as well as nutritionally desirably seeds. It’s noticeably less sweet than what you’ll be used to, but remedy this by topping it with some whole fruit like berries, and at just 250 calories per portion you’ve got room for some extras.
Buy from Lizi’s | £3.99 for 500g
These neat parcels of wheat are presents that won’t disappoint you or your body. The sugar, fat and salt levels of Shredded Wheat were the lowest of all the cereals we checked, and a 45g bowl with 125ml of semi-skimmed milk is just 222 calories. And because it’s made entirely from wholewheat, it’s a fantastic way of putting numbers on the fibre board. nestle-cereals.com/shredded-wheat
For those who have had their Weetabix, well done. For those who haven’t, listen up. Weetabix is a great ally in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. The wheaty biscuits are 95% wholegrain, with the remaining 5% consisting of barley extract and the important inclusion of iron, B2 and B1 vitamins, as well as folic acid, which helps with cell production. A bowl of two ’bix comes to just 136 calories, although that doesn’t include milk. weetabix.co.uk
It’s time to say hello to Cheerios, because these tasty little Os are actually packing a well-rounded complement of nutrients and vitamins. A portion contains B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, calcium and folic acid and although the sugar content is verging a little close to high, the wholegrain content definitely stops them flying too close to the sun. What’s more, the calorie count is just 174 in a 30g bowl with 125ml of semi-skimmed milk, meaning seconds are an option – but keep tabs on your sugar intake for the day if you do. nestle-cereals.com/cheerios
These interwoven wheaty wonders are packed with wholegrains and have added vitamins and minerals. A 40g bowl with 125ml of milk is just 206 calories, bringing them into Shredded Wheat territory, although the Shreddies do have three times the amount of sugar with 2.9g per portion. nestle-cereals.com/shreddies