How to choose hot cereals

How to choose hot cereals

A hot cereal is just what’s needed to warm you up on a cold wintery morning. We take a closer look at some of the options.

What’s available

Many hot cereals are oat-based. Rolled oats are created when oat groats are steamed then rolled into flakes. The thinner the oat flakes, or the longer you steam them, the quicker they cook. The different types of rolled oats have different textures but a very similar nutrition profile so if you have a favourite brand, stick to it. Remember, it’s what we add that makes the difference. Try sliced banana for sweetness rather than brown sugar. There is also a good range of gluten-free options, including porridge made with quinoa, millet, rice and buckwheat There’s something for all tastes!

Note: Approximately one in five people with coeliac disease reacts to oats uncontaminated by wheat gluten. Coeliac New Zealand advises people with coeliac disease not to eat oats, as gut damage can occur even without symptoms.


Oats are a source of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre helps promote regular bowel movements and soluble fibre can help to lower the absorption of LDL cholesterol. We recommend choosing hot cereals with 5g fibre or more per 100g.


Flavoured hot cereals may have fruit, spices, flavours, milk powder and sugars added. The sugars in the fruit and milk powders are natural sugars we don’t need to be concerned about. It’s the free sugars we need to watch. Free sugars include all added sugars, plus those found naturally in a syrup or extract, such as honey and fruit juice. The nutrition information panel doesn’t differentiate between natural sugars and free sugars so reading the ingredients list is important. We recommend choosing hot cereals with no more than 15g sugar per 100g and if they contain dried fruit, no more than 25g sugar per 100g.

Saturated fat

Most breakfast cereals are low in saturated fat, but when coconut is added the saturated fat content increases. We recommend choosing hot cereals with no more than 3g saturated fat per 100g.

How to choose

Use the criteria below to compare hot cereals:

Some healthier choices we found

Go Breakfast Instant Rolled Oats The Original
$2.29 per 50g pottle

Nutrition per 100g: 1720kJ; 1.6g sat fat; 0g sugar; 12g fibre; $4.58

Delicious! Convenient pottle.

Harraways Traditional Wholegrain Oats
$3.95 per 1kg bag

Nutrition per 100g: 1510kJ; 1.3g sat fat; 0.8g sugar; 11.9g fibre; $0.40

A nice nutty taste with a chunky texture. Yum!

Brookfarm Power Porrij
$13.99 per 450g pouch

Nutrition per 100g: 1632kJ; 1.6g sat fat; 2.7g sugar; 10.8g fibre; $3.11

Very nutty with a nice texture. Add some fruit for sweetness.

Uncle Tobys Milk Oaties
$2.29 per 500g pack

Nutrition per 100g: 1600kJ; 1.7g sat fat; 1g sugar; 9.2g fibre; $0.46

A grainy traditional porridge taste and texture.

Sanitarium Options: 1 Breakfast 4 Ways New Zealand Manuka Honey with LSA
$5.89 per 450g box

Nutrition per 100g: 1850kJ; 3g sat fat; 12.2g sugar; 8.9g fibre; $1.31

Love the seeds and a sweet honey taste. A crunchy texture.

Ceres Organics Bircher Muesli LSA, Blueberry, Chia, Pumpkin Seeds
$13.25 per 650g pouch

Nutrition per 100g: 1690kJ; 1.3g sat fat; 18g sugar; 9.9g fibre; $2.04

Love the addition of blueberries and pumpkin seeds.

Brookfarm Gluten Free Porrij
$17.40 per 400g pouch

Nutrition per 100g: 1628kJ; 1.4g sat fat; 2.3g sugar; 5.4g fibre; $4.35

Made from brown rice and other grains. Nutty and grainy with a chewy texture.

Healtheries Simple Wholegrain Hot Cereal Apricot & Raisin
$6.99 per 500g box

Nutrition per 100g: 1460kJ; 0g sat fat; 13.8g sugar; 4.5g fibre; $1.40

A bit like rice pudding. Like the apricots. Creamy and tasty. Add some seeds to boost the fibre!

First published: April 2017

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