With a wide range of products and information available, trying to decide which cereal to buy for breakfast can feel a bit like wading through porridge. Dietitian Katrina Pace defines your search criteria.
What could be a better way to start a cold winter’s day than digging into a steaming hot bowl of porridge? Packed with fibre from oats or other grains and seeds, and protein if you add milk, it’s a meal that will satisfy until lunchtime.
We found easy-cook sachets and flavoured versions along with the bags of plain rolled oats, rice, millet, quinoa or sorghum. There are also rolled, wholegrain, creamy and quick oats. Simply put, the larger the grain, the longer the cooking time. There’s also a larger range of Bircher muesli, including gluten free, that, despite traditionally being served cold, can also be served hot.
It was so nice to find a bigger range of gluten-free and grain-free hot cereals, although a lot of these have coconut in them. While coconut is popular and adds a distinctive flavour, remember it is very high in saturated fat, so watch the don’t have it in everything). We recommend choosing hot cereals with 3g or less saturated fat per 100g. For cereals containing coconut, aim for 6g or less saturated fat per 100g.
Flavourings in hot cereal can bring with them added sugars. Some will come from fruit added to the cereals, others are from syrups and sugars, which can quickly stack up. We recommend choosing hot cereals with 15g or less sugar per 100g. For cereals containing dried fruit, choose one with 25g or less sugar per 100g.
Oat-based hot cereals contain plenty of both soluble and insoluble fibre. This means these types of cereal can help reduce cholesterol (fat in the blood), delay the absorption of sugar into the blood and help prevent constipation. We found hot cereals that contained from 4g to 15g of fibre, so it definitely pays to check the label, as some plain oat cereals were surprisingly high, or low, in fibre. We recommend choosing hot cereals with 5g or more fibre per 100g. For children, choose between 5g and 15g per 100g.
How to choose
Use these criteria to compare hot cereals.
Some of the different hot cereals we found
Uncle Tobys Ancient Grains
$4.99 per 700g packet
Per 100g: 1590kJ, 1.6g saturated fat, 1g sugar, 9.4g fibre $0.71
Nice nutty taste. Tastier version of regular porridge.
Pam’s Creamy Porridge
$3.19 per 850g packet Per 100g: 1550kJ, 1.3g saturated fat, 1.1g sugar, 12.4g fibre, $0.38
Great traditional porridge flavour.
Blue Frog Probiotic Porridge, Vanilla Bean & Chia Seed
$12.99 per 320g packet Per 100g: 1660kJ, 1.4g saturated fat, 8.6g sugar, 10g fibre, $4.06
Delicious. Lovely vanilla flavour.
Brookfarm Gluten Free Porrij
$15.99 per 400g Per 100g: 1628kJ, 1.4g saturated fat, 2.3g sugar, 5.4g fibre, $4.00
A grainy option for a gluten-free porridge.
Ceres Bircher Muesli LSA, Blueberry, Chia, Pumpkin Seeds
$12.99 per 650g packet Per 100g: 1690kJ, 1.3g saturated fat, 18g sugar, 9.9g fibre, $2.00
The blueberries make a nice change.
Hubbards Apple, Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Creamy Porridge
$5.99 per 400g packetPer 100g: 1590kJ, 1.3g saturated fat, 15.8g sugar, 9.2g fibre, $1.50
Tastes like a muffin.
Uncle Tobys Oats Natures Mix Sultana, Apple & Cinnamon
$5.49 per 320g packet Per 100g: 1550kJ, 1.3g saturated fat, 17.1g sugar, 8.5g fibre, $1.72
The cinnamon flavour comes through nicely.
Harraways Oats Fruit Harvest
$4.95 per 1kg packet Per 100g: 1520kJ, 1.6g saturated fat, 18.8g sugar, 11.8g fibre, $0.50
The fruit adds good flavour and sweetness.