For an everyday kick-start you need something simple yet filling – something you can throw in a bowl and baptise with milk, that will give you the vooma to burn through until lunch…

Or, at least, teatime. Karlien Smit, dietician with Shelly Meltzer and Associates, at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, analysed what’s on our favourite supermarket shelves. She says, “One cereal alone cannot provide it all. For the most benefit, include a variety of cereals in the course of the week. This will also help to prevent boredom.” Smit identified the following as key aspects to look out for when sorting the Weet-Bix from the chaff.

Fibre content

Fibre earns points for fighting heart disease, controlling blood sugar, maintaining a healthy weight, preventing constipation, decreasing the risk of colon cancer and keeps you full for longer. Buy high-fibre cereals to help you achieve the recommended 25-38g of fibre a day.

Glycaemic carbohydrate

This refers to all the carbohydrate that is available for metabolism and that will affect your blood sugar levels. Adding milk to oats, for example, will lower the glycaemic index (GI).


Cereals with a higher sugar content will be higher in energy. That’s okay if you’re an athlete, but not if you’re watching your waistline.


A high-sodium diet is linked to high blood pressure, osteoporosis and kidney stones. If it contains <120mg per 100g, a product is considered low in sodium – a good choice.

Added fat

Some instant oats brands contain added non-dairy creamers, which are linked to increased risk of heart disease. Watch out for the words “partially hydrogenated vegetable fat” and “palm kernel oil” on the label.


Cereals are often enriched with vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids – sometimes as a marketing tool rather than for health benefits. Added nutrients are not an excuse to consume high-sugar, high-sodium cereals.