Long-dubbed the ‘most important meal of the day’, breakfast has become a foodie institution of sorts. On the one hand, we’re embracing going out for breakfast or brunch more than ever – and getting ever-more adventurous with our choices (not to mention making Instagram stars of the poached eggs and avocados), and nutritionists never tire of reminding us of the importance of a hearty morning meal, which sets us up for the day.
Yet, at the same time, many of us are still struggling to get to grips with the healthy breakfast message, whether that’s skipping breakfast (in a survey of 2000 Brits by Flahavan's last year, half admitted they regularly skip brekkie), or making unhealthy choices.
A full fry-up, with bacon, sausages and all the fried trimmings, is of course best kept as an occasional treat, but often, as highlighted in recent years, some of the ‘healthier-looking’ cereals and granolas, packaged up to look good for us, can actually be laden with sugar.
"Opting for a wholegrain cereal, with at least 5g of fibre per 50g, is a great way to promote digestive health, as well as keeping you going for longer and helping support weight management. Anything oat-based is a good move, as studies have shown that oats can help to regulate cholesterol levels, which is good news for cardiovascular health,” says nutritionist Jackie Lynch, author of The Right Bite.
“Many popular cereals can be surprisingly high in sugar, which will go straight to your waistline, so check the label carefully - a teaspoon of sugar is around 4g, so it can soon add up!”
While the food choices available to us have never been greater, cereals remain a massively popular choice at breakfast time for us Brits (we spoon down more than one-and-a-half million bowls of cornflakes every morning!).
So, just to milk it a little bit further (sorry!), here are five of our favourites on National Cereal Day.
Dating back to 1932, the humble Weetabix remains the UK’s leading favourite breakfast cereal – and it’s certainly deserving of the top spot in terms of healthiness. These wholegrain wheat ‘biscuits’ are considered one of the lowest sugar cereals on the shelves, as well as being low in calories, fat and salt and a good source of fibre.
Versatile too, Weetabix makes a soothing bowl warmed up with milk in winter, or can be jazzed up with fruit and yoghurt in summer, and with a 24-pack around £2.39 (RRP) in supermarkets it’s good value too. Look out for promo packs right now offering 2-4-1 sports sessions across the country throughout summer #Sportingstarts.
2. Plain porridge
Some people associate porridge with torturous bowls of gloopy gruel… Well, we’re totally in love with the nutrition-packed oats which, if prepared well, are utterly delicious. Porridge (the plain oats variety) has a long list of well-established health-supporting credentials, including a Harvard study last year that found it can play a significant role in preventing heart disease. Add a drizzle of honey, spoonful of nut butter, sprinkle of seeds and some chopped fruit… yum.
3. Primrose’s Kitchen Courgette & Cacao Granola
‘Made with love & happiness’ is what it says on the packaging – and this organic, gluten-free and vegan-friendly granola, made with sunflower seeds, coconut, sprouted buckwheat, dates, courgette and cacao, is designed to be munched with joy too.
Available on Yumbles.com (£18.77 for three 400g packs plus free delivery), it’s not exactly a ‘budget buy’ but still works out cheaper per serving than grabbing a coffee and breakfast on the go – and could transform your breakfast times. You can bulk it out with yoghurt and fruit too.
4. Nutriseed Superfood Porridge
All the wholesome goodness of porridge oats (60), with added ground flaxseed (16%), chia seeds (10%), dried cranberries (10%) and Goji berries (4%), which add up to a tasty and super-charged nutritional breakfast, packing in extra omega 3, antioxidants and protein. A 1kg pack costs £9.99 from nutriseed.co.uk – that’s approx 28 servings, so works out less than 50p per bowlful.
5. Cereal Lovers Simply Banana & Chocolate Granola
Hang on a minute – how can a cereal with chocolate in its name be healthy? Well if you do have a bit of a sweet tooth (and remember: it’s all about moderation and there’s nothing wrong with a few tasty treats here and there!), this is a great choice.
Dense, crunchy and satisfying, it’s salt-free, wheat-free (for those needing to avoid wheat), low in saturated fat, high in fibre and antioxidants and contains only natural sugars. £3.95 for 400g from cereallovers.co.uk
Are you a cereal fan? Tell us about your brekkies of choice in the comments below…