Body

The healthiest choice in muesli

Muesli makes a satisfying breakfast – but the crunchy cereal is often not as healthy as it seems. Nutritionist Nicole Deed from FoodFight reveals the smartest choice.

What are the key considerations when buying muesli?
When buying muesli, it’s a good idea to be mindful of the fat and sugar content. The oats, nuts and seeds in muesli mean it can be higher in fat than other breakfast cereals. The fat from these ingredients is usually good ‘unsaturated’ fat. However, many manufacturers are upping the fat content with the addition of vegetable oils.

A good benchmark for total fat is less than 10g per 100g and less than 2g of saturated fat. Remember, saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels so it is considered harmful fat. The ingredients list will help you identify whether the fat comes mainly from nuts and seeds or from added oils.

Most store-bought muesli also contains added sugar, including honey, golden syrup, maple syrup or glucose. Some of the dried fruit used may also be sweetened with extra sugar. Be sure to check the ingredient list for added sugar. Ideally muesli should contain less than 15g of sugar per 100g and more than 6g of fibre.

Which is the smartest choice in muesli?
This was a close decision, but with no added sodium, Kellogg’s Five Whole Grain Muesli scraped in as the winner, with Kellogg’s All-Bran High Fibre Muesli coming in a close second.

Five Whole Grain Muesli has the least energy, fat and saturated fat of the cereals tested. It also has the second-highest amount of dietary fibre. The sugar in this muesli comes mostly from the fruit with little added sugar.

Here's Nicole's full review:

Weight watchers oven baked nutty muesli
495g, $4.99.

Nutritional information per 100g:
Energy 1,590kJ
Protein 11.6g; total
Fat 5.9g
Saturated fat 1g
Carbohydrate 37.3g
Sugars 17.3g
Fibre 4g
Sodium 132mg

Serving size: 45g
Servings per pack: 11

I am surprised that this muesli contains the most protein. It also has the lowest amount of carbohydrate but with 17.3g of sugar, it sits just over the 15g per 100g level. It also has the second-highest sodium content, which means salt is added to the muesli.

Vogel’s café-style light original
400g, $8.99

Nutritional information per 100g:
Energy 1,760kJ
Protein 7.8g
Total fat 10.8g
Saturated fat 4.4g
Carbohydrate 69.6g
Sugars 21.1g
Fibre 5.2g
Sodium 211mg

Serving size: 40g
Servings per pack: 10

Don’t be fooled into thinking the “no gluten and no wheat” claim means this is a healthy choice. It has the most energy, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sodium, a lot of sugar and the least amount of protein per 100g. There is a lot of added sugar, which certainly pushes up the energy and carb levels.

Hubbards toasted muesli, pomegranate & blueberry
580g, $6.69

Nutritional information per 100g:
Energy 1,610kJ
Protein 8.8g
Total fat 8.8g
Saturated fat 1.4g
Carbohydrate 61.7g
Sugars 17.8g
Fibre 9.3g
Sodium 60mg

Serving size: 50g
Servings per pack: 11

One look at the ingredient list tells you this has the most ‘added sugar’ (not from fruit) of the muesli tested and it also contains the most ingredients in general. Nutrition-wise it sits in the middle in terms of energy, protein and fat.

Kellogg’s All-Bran high fibre muesli
450g, $6.49

Nutritional information per 100g:
Energy 1,580kJ
Protein 11.1g
Total fat 8.8g
Saturated fat 1.7g
Carbohydrate 56.3g
Sugars 14.3g
Fibre 13.5g
Sodium 90mg

Serving size: 45g
Servings per pack: 10

All-Bran is known to be high in fibre, so it is no surprise that this muesli contains the most fibre, least sugar and a decent protein and carb content. It does, however, contain added salt, which brings the sodium levels up. A very close second.

Kellogg’s Five Whole grain muesli
Smartest overall choice
450g, $5.49

Nutritional information per 100g:
Energy 1,440kJ
protein 9g; total fat 3.9g
Saturated fat 0.7g
Carbohydrate 62.4g
Sugars 14.7g
Fibre 10.5g
Sodium 5mg
Potassium 420mg

Serving size: 45g
Servings per pack: 10

This cereal has the least energy, fat and saturated fat of the products tested, it also has a decent amount of fibre. The sugar content is just under 15g per 100g. Another positive is the low sodium content, which shows it has no added salt.

Pams Natural muesli
650g, $3.99

Nutritional information per 100g:
Energy 1,660kJ
Protein 9.6g
Total fat 11.8g
Saturated fat 2.4g
Carbohydrate 58.1g
Sugars 21.9g
Fibre 9.2g
Sodium 30mg

Serving size: 50g
Servings per pack: 13

This has the highest sugar content at a whopping 21.9g per 100g. It is also the only muesli to go over both the ‘fat limits’ at 11.8g total fat per 100g and 2.4g saturated fat per 100g.

Is there a healthier alternative to store-bought muesli?
While some of the muesli tested is high in sugar, they also provide fibre, proteins and vitamins.

However, I would suggest buying plain wholegrain oats and adding fresh fruit and nuts at home to create your own version of muesli. This way you can control what you eat for breakfast without any hidden nasties.

Photos: Getty Images

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