How To Select The
Healthiest Breakfast Cereals

It is important to be able to identify the healthiest breakfast cereals to have every day and also to understand some of the deceptive marketing tactics used by breakfast cereal manufacturers in order to make their product appear healthier and more appealing than it actually is.

It is unfortunate but the vast majority of so-called healthy breakfast cereals on the market are actually quite unhealthy. They contain too much sugar, salt, additives, colourings and preservatives. Worst of all, the foods from which it has been made have been so highly processed that it doesn't resemble anything like the original food sources.

Healthiest Breakfast Cereals

Often, the breakfast cereal is so devoid of nutritional content that the manufacturers employ the services of marketers in order to make the product more appealing.

Breakfast cereal marketers are very clever at promoting products. They can easily use deceptive marketing tactics to make it seem that their product is one of the healthiest breakfast cereals available!

Here are just some of the deceptive marketing tactics used to make breakfast cereals appear healthy:

Added vitamins and minerals

Most breakfast cereals are highly processed foods. Since processing strips food of it's nutritional content, the manufacturers of breakfast cereals decide to 'add back' some of the vitamins and minerals that were taken away during the manufacturing process.

Then, the added vitamins and minerals (which are generally in miniscule amounts) are promoted on the front of the packaging giving customers the impression that the cereal is somehow 'enhanced'!

Contains no artificial colours or flavours

Whilst it is a good thing that the manufactuers have decided not to add artificial colours or flavours to the breakfast cereal, this is often used as a 'smoke and mirrors' tactic!

The 'contains no artificial colours or flavours' slogan, which again, is generally plastered on the front of the product, takes most people's focus away from the fact that the breakfast cereal is loaded with sugar; a 'natural' flavouring!

In fact, a good general principles to follow when it comes to selecting the best breakfast cereal for you and your family is this: Do not buy breakfast cereal that contains more than 15 grams of sugar per 100 grams. However, the exception is if the breakfast cereal contains a substantial amount of dried fruits like, sultanas, paw paw pieces or pineapple pieces. If this is the case then allow a maximum of 25 grams of sugar per 100grams of product.

This information is required by law here in Australia and can be easily found by simply looking at the nutritional information on the side of the box or the back of the packet.

Another guideline regarding sugar is to ensure that it is not one of the first three products listed in the nutritional panel/ product listing with the exception being if the product contains few ingredients, i.e. Weet-Bix or similar products.

Use of inducements to purchase the product

These inducements may be toys, prizes or simply the use of well-known cartoon characters on the front of the product. The marketers of breakfast cereals using these tactics generally target children.

If a breakfast cereal is offering a toy in the box, often, in a child's mind, the toy becomes the product and no matter what, the child wants the toy and gets the breakfast cereal as a 'bonus'!

If the breakfast cereal features superheroes or cartoon celebrities on the packet, the 'good feelings' that the child associates with the character now become associated with the product.

Fun colouring-in activities are also featured on the back of some cereal cartons as an inducement to children. In fact, one particular breakfast cereal product had a recognisable cartoon character on the front, a colouring-in activity on the back and contained over 41 grams of sugar per 100 grams of product!

Use of different names for sugar

On several ingredients listing of breakfast cereals sugar is often re-named to disguise its presence in a product. It may be called raw sugar, which sounds healthier than 'normal' sugar, glucose, barley malt extract, honey or molasses.

Listing the breakfast cereal as a source of a particular nutrient

In some cereals they have the phrase, 'source of fibre' featured on the front of the box. Then, when you examine the nutritional panel you realise that it actually provides a very small amount of fibre, 7% of the recommended daily intake!

In other cases it might say, 'source of protein' and only contain 2.4 grams of protein per serve! Furthermore, the type of protein provided is also a low-quality source, usually from wheat.

Here are the features of the healthiest breakfast cereals:

  • High in carbohydrate but low in sugar

  • Low in fat

  • Minimal processing

  • A source of vitamins and minerals (preferably not added)

  • Something you enjoy and can eat for the rest of your life
  • Some examples of the healthiest breakfast cereals are: Oats, natural muesli (not toasted), Weet-Bix, Corn Flakes and Oat Flakes.

    How to make the healthiest breakfast cereals even better:

    One of the major quick weight loss principles is to ensure that all of your meals have a balanced macronutrient ratio, which means that every meal contains a portion of carbohydrate, protein and fat.

    Of course, even if you have one of the healthiest breakfast cereals on its own with milk the predominant macronutrient is carbohydrate. The meal is very low in protein and fat. Therefore, it is always a good idea to add 1-2 tablespoons of nuts and seeds or LSA (ground linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds) to your cereal to increase the protein and good fat content. This will help to balance out the macronutrient profile of the meal.

    To take this one step further, a standard serve of cereal is only 30 grams (1/2 cup), which is actually a small amount of cereal when you measure it out. Even if you add the nuts and seeds or LSA to it, it is still a small amount of food. As a result, I also recommend adding a tablespoon of psyllium husks to the cereal. This will help to increase the bulk of the meal, which will make you feel more satisfied.

    Additional steps for the healthiest breakfast cereals:

    If you really want to make yours the best breakfast cereal you possibly can then I also recommend using oat milk or rice milk as an alternative to cow's milk. Without going into detail, these are far healthier options, especially if you want to lose weight.

    Also, you may want to add a teaspoon of superfoods to your cereal in order to increase your antioxidant intake substantially.

    If you follow these tips and understand the deceptive marketing tactics used in marketing breakfast cereals then you will certainly be able to select the healthiest breakfast cereals and will be giving your body a great start to the day!

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