5 breakfast myths that you didn’t know about your cereal bowl

5 breakfast myths that you didn’t know about your cereal bowl

Molecular nutritionist Dr Emma Beckett shares 5 breakfast myths that you didn’t know about your cereal bowl.

Myth #1: Traditional breakfast foods are bad for you

Truth: Some foods high in carbohydrate, such as wholemeal bread and breakfast cereals contain dietary fibre, which helps us to feel fuller, therefore starting the day off right. 

Breakfast cereal is a simple and convenient way to start the day and it can often provide more nutrients such as Iron, B-vitamins and fibre, than non-cereal breakfast choices. What’s better, cereal pairs well with other nutrient dense breakfast foods such as Greek yogurt, and nuts, which are a source of protein. Protein is essential in the diet as it is the most filling macronutrient that can help reduce grazing habits throughout the day. 

Some cereals, like Kellogg’s iconic All Bran and Sultana Bran, are high in fibre and have a 4.5 or even the maximum 5 Health Star rating. Cereals like this have been a popular choice for almost 100 years.

Myth #2: Processed = bad? 

Truth: Most food needs to go through some sort of processing for it to even be edible and digestible – processing is a broad term that includes cooking, cutting and packaging.

For many foods it is necessary to undergo some sort of processing in order to preserve the food and prevent wastage, and to make them tasty and practical. From a nutritional perspective, key nutrients like protein aren’t necessarily lost during processing, they can sometimes be retained or made easier to access through processing. Others like B vitamins and iron may be added back if they’re lost, in a process called enrichment. Staple foods, like breakfast cereals and breads are also often fortified with extra nutrients – these foods are chosen because they are affordable, accessible, shelf stable and popular. It is also important to consider to what degree the food item has been processed, with ultra-processed items to be consumed in moderation. 

Myth #3: It’s expensive to have a healthy diet

Truth: According to recently published Australian research based on modelling, it is possible to improve Aussie diets while spending less money on food, choosing low-cost nutritious foods improves diet quality and can reduce a family’s grocery bill by over 25 per cent.

It can be a misconception that healthy food is far more expensive than unhealthy and takeaway options. There are actually lots of healthy options that are cheap to buy and aren’t going to spoil quickly. Wholemeal bread and breakfast cereals are good for the budget and last for a while.  When it comes to buying fruit and vegetables, canned and frozen options are just as healthy as the fresh ones, and you can buy them cheap and store or freeze ahead of time. If you do your research and shop around, healthy eating really doesn’t have to be as expensive as it might seem!

Myth #4: Breakfast cereal is too sugary and has no nutritional value

Truth: Australian data has shown that cereal contributes less than 3 per cent of added sugar in the diet. Many cereals contain whole grains and fibre which many people are not getting enough of. They are full of essential vitamins and minerals that are important for health and wellbeing, and are the number one source of iron in the Aussie diet, especially in children. Cereal contains a range of sugar levels, there are some sweeter ones, but most are moderately sweetened and many sweetened with added fruits which contain natural sugars. 

For example, half of Kellogg’s 55 cereals contain 2 or less teaspoons of sugar per bowl. Updating formulations have meant that they have removed over 700 tonnes of sugar and 300 tonnes of salt from Aussie diets – that’s the equivalent to the weight of around seven blue whales! 

Myth #5: If it isn’t wholegrain it doesn’t contain fibre

Truth: Whilst whole grain foods contain fibre, not all fibre-containing foods contain the whole grain. Fibre is found in the outer part of the grain called the bran. The bran can be removed from the grain and used in foods. Foods made with bran may not always contain whole grain but they do contain plenty of fibre. 

Two out of three Aussies are not meeting their daily fibre targets. In fact, four out of five Aussies don’t eat enough fibre to protect themselves from chronic disease! An adequate intake of fibre is between 25 and 30 grams a day for most of us. That might sound hard, but getting your daily dose is actually easy if you eat high-fibre options including fibre rich breakfast cereals, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Did you know that different whole grains have different levels and types of fibres - for example whole grain brown rice and corn both have naturally less fibre compared to other whole grains such as whole grain wheat and oats, which have higher amounts of fibre. 

Just because a whole grain has less fibre doesn’t mean it’s not beneficial - it is! Whole grain is exactly as it sounds - it’s the entire whole grain kernel! Fibre is one component of the whole grain kernel and all components work together to bring health benefits. 

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