It’s official, Britain loves cereal
Cereal is the go-to choice of breakfast for millions of Brits. In 2020 we got through a whopping 580 million kilograms of it. And it was voted the nation’s fourth most popular breakfast food, after eggs, toast and bacon.
It’s not hard to see why it’s so popular. Most cereal is convenient, satisfying to eat and needs minimal preparation.
But it’s not always the healthiest choice
The main problem is that the plain cereal doesn’t taste great. Some people compare it to eating cardboard — though we’re not sure how they know that!
To make it taste good, the manufacturers have to add other ingredients like sugar, and salt. Then we have the opposite problem — it tastes too good and we eat more of it than we should. Cereal addiction is real.
So how can we make healthier choices when it comes to cereal? And what do we need to look for to know if it’s healthy or not?
How to check the label
To check how healthy your cereal is, start by reading the label. In the UK, our cereals have a Reference Intake (RI) chart, so it’s easy to see how much you’re supposed to have and how this fits in with the rest of your diet.
You’ll usually find the RI chart printed on the front of the box, away from the main nutritional information. The amounts and percentages shown are based on the daily requirements of an average healthy adult woman.
The RI chart will give you the recommended serving size. If your cereal is unhealthy, the serving size will probably be tiny and nowhere near a bowl full.
If you haven’t done it before, try weighing out the serving size portion and compare it to how much you would normally eat. You may be in for a shock.
The chart shows the calorie content of a serving size, which is useful if you’re following a calorie-controlled diet.
The number of calories you should be having each day vary according to your age, gender, weight and activity levels. The daily numbers for an average person of a healthy weight are:
• 2,500 for men
• 2,000 for women
• 1,800 for children aged 5–10 years
Fat, saturates, sugars and salt
The rest of the RI chart shows the fat, salt and sugar content of a serving size portion of the cereal. This is shown in grams and as a percentage of a healthy daily allowance for an average person of a healthy weight.
How to choose healthy cereals
If you want to switch to a more healthy cereal, here are some things you can look for.
Wholegrains are better for you. They’re a good source of fibre, B vitamins and other important nutrients. The fibre helps to maintain a healthy digestive system.
Organic cereals are grown without artificial pesticides, fertilisers or herbicides. They’re a purer product with fewer added ingredients and no nasty additives.
Fortified cereals contain added vitamins and minerals to help towards your recommended daily intake.
Yes, plain cereals are the ones that, allegedly, taste like cardboard. But you can transform them at home, using your own ingredients to sweeten them.
You can add a small amount of sugar, or use natural sweeteners like honey, agave, fresh or dried fruits, coconut flakes, nuts and unsweetened nut butters. These add texture as well as flavour. And, remember, many milks can add some natural sweetness too.
Not all grains are created equal. Some are better for you, with more fibre and protein. These will keep you fuller until lunchtime, so you’re less tempted to snack.
Two of the healthiest breakfast grains are wholegrain oats and wholegrain wheat.
Oats are high in vitamin B, iron and manganese. They’re naturally gluten-free but, to keep them that way, producers must ensure they’re not contaminated by other grains during growing and milling. Nairn’s gluten free porridge oats are produced in this way.
Whole oats are a main ingredient of porridge, granola and muesli, but they’re healthiest when you buy them plain and prepare them yourself.
If you can tolerate gluten, wheat is a good source of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and fibre. Whole wheat is best as it contains the entire grain and the most nutrients.
Nestle Shredded Wheat is made from 100% whole grain wheat. It’s a plain cereal that can be topped with natural ingredients to add sweetness.
Fancy a change of breakfast cereal?
If you’re looking for a healthier breakfast cereal, or just fancy a change from the usual, you’ll find something in our cereal range.
Some of our favourite cereals at Bother are:
- Dorset Cereals Classic Fruit, Nuts & Seeds Muesli 600g
- FREEE Gluten Free Organic Chocolate Stars 300g
- Jordans Country Crisp with Tangy Raspberries 500g
We have plain wholegrain cereals, organic varieties, luxury brands and popular favourites.