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Updated 20 October 2015

Which instant cereal is best for you?

We took a closer look at the nutritional value of SA’s favourite instant breakfast cereals, taking into account both nutritional value and price. The results might surprise you.

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With so many different options on the cereal shelf, Health24's DietDoc zoomed in on South Africans' instant cereal favourites to see how they measured up against each other in terms of nutritional value, and price, to help you make the best choice for breakfast for yourself and your family. 

The instant cereals analysed 

The following cereal brands were selected as they cost roughly less than R5 per serving:

Kellogg's Coco Pops, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Tiger Brands Ace Instant porridge, Kellogg's All-Bran flakes, Bokomo Weetbix and Tiger Brands Oatso Easy

The ideal instant breakfast cereal

DietDoc says that when it comes to breakfast, shoppers need to consider that a good cereal should have a low glycaemic index (GI) and glycaemic load (GL) (see below), it should be high in energy, high in nutritive value (protein, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, especially iron) and low in sodium and should, of course, be affordable.

Note: Both the glycaemic index and the glycaemic load rankings refer to carbohydrates. Glycaemic load is a ranking system for carbohydrate-rich food that measures the amount of carbohydrates in a serving of food. The glycaemic index indicates how rapidly a carbohydrate is digested and released as glucose (sugar) into the blood stream.

This infographic shows a rating of six of South Africa's most popular instant cereals. The cereals were scored from 0-10, with a score of zero indicating poor nutritional value and ten indicating a good, nutritious breakfast. 

Click here for a complete description of how the cereals were analysed and the scores reached.  You will also be able to see which cereals have the most sugar, salt, carbs, protein and fat, their GI and GL values, ingredients and price. 


best breakfast cereal

Choosing a breakfast cereal

"When buying breakfast cereal, don’t waste money on expensive products that are overloaded with sugar, highly processed carbohydrates and sodium, and have a high GI and GL," she says.
 
She recommends that South Africans combine breakfast cereals with foods like low-fat milk, yoghurt or maas as this lowers the GI of the meal and increase the protein, calcium and riboflavin (B2) intake.

"If you can add a citrus or other fruit high in vitamin C to your breakfast, then you will improve the uptake of iron from the breakfast cereal and help to prevent iron-deficiency anaemia", she advises.

DietDoc rated the following breakfast cereal in terms of its nutritional value and price with a score of ten being good nutrition at a low cost per serving.

Kellogg's for Breakfast Month

With recent statistics revealing that 1 in 5 children in South Africa go to school hungry, Kellogg's launched The Breakfast for Better Days (BFBD) Initiative in April to create awareness and improve the statistic.

Kellogg's served breakfast to 25,000 learners across the country each school day. A total of 5 million breakfasts will be served in 2015.

Kellogg's nutritionist Cheryl Meyer confirmed to Health24 that the predominant breakfast cereal served on the BFBD Initiative was Corn Flakes. According to DietDoc's cereal analysis -Kellogg's Corn Flakes scored 4 out of 10 mainly due to its high GI and GL load (which is not ideal) and high salt content - the sugar content for this cereal is acceptable, but the sodium content (294mg per 40 gram) per serving is quite high. In fact, Kellogg's Corn Flakes has the highest sodium content per serving in comparison to all the other instant cereal brands in this analysis.

"Whilst sodium is an essential component of a healthy, varied and balanced diet, there is evidence to suggest that too much salt in your diet can be a major risk factor in high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke", admits Meyer. She says that the cereal maker is still working on reducing the sodium content of their products.

On the up side for Corn Flakes, it is affordable - coming in cheapest of all the instant cereals analysed at under R1 per serving. 

Read: Sensitivity to salt puts black South Africans at stroke risk

The dilemma of hungry South Africans

In late 2014, in an initiative to celebrate Heritage Day, fast food giant Hungry Lion also gave away 1.1 tonnes of fried chicken as well as cans of Coca Cola to 11 000 Mitchells Plain residents

While we appreciate big companies sharing their products with South Africa's disadvantaged communities, we also need to question the quality of the gifts and whether they are setting these people up for decades of poor dietary choices. 

More about the Kellogg's initiative in this video

Read more:

Is your breakfast healthy?
Oats: a good breakfast choice
How to choose healthier fast food options

 
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