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Which cereals have least sugar? Your guide to a healthier breakfast without paying a fortune

It can be hard to balance getting nutritious foods that make you feel good without spending a lot.

In this series, we try to find the healthiest options in the supermarket for the best value – and have enlisted the help of Sunna Van Kampen, founder of Tonic Healthwho went viral on social media for reviewing food in the search of healthier choices.

The series does not aim to identify the outright healthiest option, but to help you get better nutritional value for as little money as possible.

Today, we’re looking at the breakfast staple – cereal. 

A sugar trap?

“Protein and good fats are what fill you up and satiate you to get your day going,” Sunna says.

“Cereal unfortunately is a sugar and carb-heavy start which causes your blood sugar to spike and as a result you feel hungry way before lunch time.”

A glance at the nutrition labels and you’ll see the problem. 

“Some popular brands contain 35% sugar or up to 12g of sugar per 30g serving – that’s already half of the daily recommended intake for children,” Sunna says. 

That’s before accounting for the fact that most people double up on recommended portion sizes. 

“According to research the average bowl weighs 73g rather than 30g suggested portion size – that means your child could be having their daily sugar quota for breakfast before school,” Sunna says.

Healthier cereal choices

“The key to healthier cereal bowls is to ensure minimal sugar and maximum fibre – which is where options like Weetabix come to the forefront as a better option – at 4.2% sugar and 10% fibre,” Sunna says. 

Among the main brands, this is hard to beat.

Frosties and Crunchy Nut don’t fare well at 35% and 37% sugar respectively. Cornflakes at 8% and Coco Pops at 17% are better – but still high.

Alternative breakfasts

Greek yogurt: “High in protein and packed with probiotics, Greek yogurt is my breakfast go to. Top it with some fresh berries and a sprinkle of seeds for an antioxidant boost.”

Porridge: “Oats are a great breakfast staple, offering a good dose of fibre, but context matters.

“It’s great before a run or the gym but if you are just sitting at your desk all day it will spike your blood sugar and may be best to add more protein and fats to it. 

“Try adding peanut butter or protein powder for a more filling breakfast with more stable blood sugar.”

Eggs: “Boiled, poached, or scrambled, eggs are a protein-rich option that can keep you fuelled till lunch. Pair them with sourdough toast and you have possibly the most well-rounded value breakfast.”

“Switching to these alternatives can drastically cut down your sugar intake and increase your energy levels.”

The money

We know cereal is a value-for-money and easy breakfast option, but let’s have a closer look at the numbers. 

If we take the average cereal bowl at 73g, a cost per bowl looks like 50p for Crunchy Nut cereal and about 25p for the 250ml of milk that goes with it. 

“So, your daily breakfast is costing you 75p per day or £273.75 per year for the privilege of 9.3kg of sugar per year,” Sunna says. 

In contrast, a typical medium free-range egg is 25p. 

Put three on a slice of sourdough (15p per slice) and an optimal breakfast has only cost you 90p a day or £328.5 a year. 

“So, you can swap over 18g of sugar every morning for over 18g of protein for just £54.75 extra per year,” Sunna says. 

“A health investment, well worth the money.”

However, if you want to stick with cereal – supermarket own-label brands are usually 60% cheaper than branded versions. 

Read more from this series…