what do breakfast cereals really contain?


  • Between 2017 and 2021, the association for the defense of consumers and users analyzed the packaging and composition of nearly 900 food products, including breakfast cereals. In its conclusions, the institution alerted on practices “which mislead the consumer” and on “nutritional or health claims”.
  • The consumption of ultra-processed foods increases the risk of significant weight gain, cardiovascular disease and mortality.

Between toast and hot chocolate, cereals are often found at the center of the breakfast table. Much appreciated by the youngest, these foods are nevertheless often singled out by the various health authorities. In question ? The vast majority of cereals are actually ultra-processed foods that may contain sugar, salt, oils. But also additives such as colorants or emulsifiers.

What cereals to avoid for breakfast?

These food products are usually too high on the glycemic index to eat every morning. Cereals can also lead children to snack because they do not constitute a satisfying breakfast.

Cereal flakes (cornflakes) are among the ultra-processed foods. Similarly, cereals made from rice or popped corn have a very poor glycemic index. As for filled cereals, they are considered candy by a majority of health and nutrition professionals.

Published in 2020 in the scientific journal Journal of Public Policy & Marketinga study had pointed out that consumers tended to trust the marketing of cereal boxes too much when it often turned out to be untrue. “When buying packaged foods, it has become difficult to find products that do not claim to be healthy for one reason or another (…) If the increase in the number and visibility of food claims in the market reflects the growing consumer interest in health and well-being, it also raises important public health issues”, the scientists pointed out.

Consuming muesli or oatmeal for a balanced breakfast

In 2020, the association for the defense of consumers and users also warned of the poor composition of French cereals based on data from the Nutri-Score system which divides products into five categories (A, B, C, D, E). “The vast majority of products get a C or D grade because they are too sweet. Another observation, the actual share of cereals in the products indicating the overall quantity of cereals is quite disappointing (…) it appears that 63% of them are in category C and 28% in category D. mainly for certain sweet petals (88%) and filled cereals (74%)”, she asserted.

But how do you spot ultra-processed cereals when shopping at the supermarket? “Generally speaking, just look at the labels; you’ll think I’m overreacting, but it’s probably one of the worst foods out there. It’s obviously also loaded with sugar, and when it’s not, it’s is so transformed that eating them raises blood sugar very quickly, which can result in weight gain, but also strokes. So for children, it is really a trap, especially if they are sitting all school day”warned Véronique Liesse, nutritionist-dietician, to our colleagues from RTBF.

It is therefore better to favor muesli, oatmeal or even quinoa for the first meal of the day. In your bowl, you can add chocolate, honey, fruit or jam to give even more flavor to your cereal. You will have a balanced meal to start the day off right!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.