The sweet truth about cereal and sugar
Brown or white, granulated or caster, in cubes or sachets, sugar’s been around since Christopher Columbus brought a bit of sugarcane back from the Canary Islands (there’s a fact that could impress the rest of the family!). It’s one of the ingredients in many foods, including breakfast cereals.
Examples of sugar intake at breakfast time
What is sugar's role?
Sugar preserves, gives a texture, a nice golden colour and, of course, a sweeter flavor. Cereal is made mostly from grain, which can make it a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. So sugar is merely its partner (or maybe we should say sweetheart?).
The World Health Organisation recommends a maximum of 10 teaspoons of added sugars a day for children and 12 for adults. The good news is that many cereals contain two teaspoons or fewer of added sugars per serving.
Egyptians used to bury mummies with necklaces made from barley, and in 1324 King Edward II of England set the standard for the measurement - making the ‘inch’ equal to ‘three grains of barley, dry and round, placed end-to-end lengthwise’.
Rice in disguise
Wild rice isn’t really rice at all – it’s the seed of an aquatic grass originally grown by Native American tribes. It has a strong flavour and is quite expensive so it’s usually mixed with other types of rice.
Just how sweet?
Sugars from breakfast cereals make up around 5% of the average daily intake of added sugars for adults (8% for children). And studies show that children who eat pre-sweetened breakfast cereal show no difference in their overall daily intake of sugars compared to those who don’t.
So there you have it – the sweet truth about breakfast cereal and sugar. Now all you have to do is enjoy it !
- Bates B et al (2014) UK National Diet & Nutrition Survey. Results from Years 1, 2, 3 and 4 (combined) of the Rolling Programme (2008/2009 – 2011/2012). London: Public Health England
- Albertson AM, Thompson DR, Franko DL et al (2011) Weight indicators and nutrient intake in children and adolescents do not vary by sugar content in ready-to-eat cereal: results from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2006. Nutr Res. Mar;31(3):229-36. • Bachman JL, Reedy J, Subar AF et al (2008) Sources of food group intakes among the U.S. population, 2001-2002. J Am Diet Assoc.;108(5):804-14. • INCA2 (2008) French National Dietary Survey.
- ^ Bates B et al (2014) UK National Diet & Nutrition Survey. Results from Years 1, 2, 3 and 4 (combined) of the Rolling Programme (2008/2009 – 2011/2012). London: Public Health England
- ^ • Albertson AM, Thompson DR, Franko DL et al (2011) Weight indicators and nutrient intake in children and adolescents do not vary by sugar content in ready-to-eat cereal: results from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2006. Nutr Res. Mar;31(3):229-36. • Bachman JL, Reedy J, Subar AF et al (2008) Sources of food group intakes among the U.S. population, 2001-2002. J Am Diet Assoc.;108(5):804-14. • INCA2 (2008) French National Dietary Survey.
We've tried to answer as many of your questions as possible. You can search them all here:
How can I find foods made with whole grain?
Two things to remember: • Look for food labels where the word 'whole' appears in front of the name of the grain, like “whole wheat” or “wholemeal bread”. • For foods with more than one ingredient, make sure whole grain is listed towards the top of the ingredients list. The further up the list it is, the more whole grain has been used in the recipe. And look out for the percentage of whole grain. You should find this in the ingredients list too. It’s easy to know if a Nestlé breakfast cereal is made with whole grain: just look out for the Green Banner and whole grain tick on top of the box.
What should be in a complete breakfast?
A complete breakfast should include a balance of nutrients from each of the major food groups. As a guide, it might look like this: • 1 grain-based starchy food • 1 dairy food • 1 portion of fresh fruit • 1 glass of water • Optionally, an additional source of protein Nestlé breakfast cereals are a nutritious breakfast choice as they are: • A source of fiber and whole grain • Low in fat (most have low levels of all types of fat, including saturates) • Fortified with vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, calcium and iron • A lower calorie per kilojoule, fat and sugar choice than many other breakfast food options
Do breakfast cereals contain too much saturated fat?
No. Breakfast cereals aren’t a major source of saturated fats, and contain no added trans fats. Some grains, such as oats, can be higher in fats – but these are naturally present in the grain, and tend to be ‘good’ fats, not saturated fats.
Can processed foods be made with whole grain?
Yes. If a food product has the word “whole” listed on its ingredient label – wholewheat pasta or wholemeal bread, for example, then you know it’s been made with whole grain flour, even if the other ingredients are processed. By the way, even whole grains need to be processed: removing the inedible outer husk makes them safe to eat. But they’re less processed than refined grains, which require additional steps to remove the bran and germ.
Do breakfast cereals really make a significant contribution to vitamin and mineral intakes?
Research shows that adults and children who regularly eat fortified breakfast cereals are more likely to reach their daily requirements of vitamins and minerals, including the B Vitamins and Iron. Eating whole grain breakfast cereal with milk is a nutritious way to start the day and can be part of a healthy, balanced diet.
We'd love to hear your comments about Nestlé cereals, so please let us know what you think, we always appreciate hearing from you.