NEW DATA: What’s Actually in Your Breakfast Cereal?

In 2015-2016 GLNC conducted a grain food product audit, examining the nutritional profile of 420 breakfast cereals found in four different retail supermarkets in the North Sydney/Cremorne area of Sydney(1). This comprehensive analysis included 165 ready-to-eat cereals, 182 mueslis (inc. granola and cluster products) and 73 hot cereals (i.e. rolled oats, porridge). The review used on pack information, including nutrition information, claims, logo and ingredients to determine content of fibre, protein, sodium, sugars and whole grains per serve and per 100g.

The audit confirmed the important role of the breakfast cereal category in delivering essential nutrition.

  • Almost 9 out of 10 breakfast cereals were a source of fibre (≥2g fibre per serve)
  • 65% of breakfast cereals were a source of whole grain (≥8g whole grain per serve)
  • 59% of breakfast cereals provided more than one-third of the whole grain daily intake (48g) in just one serve
  • 35% of breakfast cereals were a source of plant-based protein (≥5g protein per serve).

But what about sugar and sodium?

  • 95% of breakfast cereals met the Australian Government’s benchmark for sodium reformulation set at 400mg/100g or less. 61% of breakfast cereals were low in sodium (≤120mg/100g)
  • 63% of breakfast cereals met the National Healthy School Canteens Guidelines for ‘Healthier Choice’ breakfast, with less than 20g of sugar per 100g.

According to the GLNC 2014 Grains and Legumes Consumption and Attitudinal study, 58% of Australians consume breakfast cereals, with wheat biscuits followed by flaked cereals and plain porridge/oats, being the most popular options(2).

The most comprehensive review of the nutrition and health effects of breakfast cereals to date, which included more than 230 papers over 30 years, reinforced the important role that breakfast cereals make as core grain foods to nutrition and health outcomes(3):

Children and adults who ate breakfast cereal regularly:

  • Had better quality diets and better nutritional status
  • Lower body mass index and lower risk of overweight and obesity

Regular whole grain and/or high fibre breakfast cereal consumption was associated with:

  • Lower risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • Improved digestive wellbeing.

The 2015-2016 GLNC audit will be discussed in further detail, with a closer look at the nutritional content of breads, pasta, rice, noodles, couscous, crispbreads and rice/corn cakes at the upcoming GLNC event – the ‘Grains for Health Forum’ on 22 June. The Grains for Health Report will also be made available online on the GLNC website following the event. To register your interest for the event, please email contactus@glnc.org.au. However, places are limited.


  1. GLNC. GLNC 2015 Grains and Legumes Product Audit. Unpublished: Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council 2016.
  2. GLNC. 2014 Australian Grains and Legumes Consumption and Attitudinal Report. Unpublished: 2014.
  3. Williams PG. The Benefits of Breakfast Cereal Consumption: A Systematic Review of the Evidence Base. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal. 2014;5(5):636S-73S.

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