Nutritional balance of breakfast cereals

[PEREZGONZALEZ Jose D (2012). Nutritional balance of breakfast cereals. Journal of Knowledge Advancement & Integration (ISSN 1177-4576), 2012, pages 155-156.] [Printer friendly]

Breakfast cereals' BNI

When analysed using the Balanced Nutrition Index™ (BNI™) technology (Perezgonzalez, 20111), breakfast cereals cover a surprisingly large range of nutritional balance, from the almost balanced to the extremely unbalanced (see illustration 1).

Overall, oat-based breakfasts are relatively close to being nutritionally balanced, followed by mueslis, most of which contain oats as their main ingredient. Wheat, corn and rice-based breakfast cereals, normally in the form of flakes or puffed grains, are moderately to highly unbalanced, especially when containing added sugar. Finally, bran-based cereals, typically marketed as products which are helpful to the digestive system, tend to be extremely unbalanced, mainly because of their high levels of fiber (as this is intentional, however, many bran-based cereals should be considered as dietary supplements rather than as breakfast cereals proper).

Illustration 1: The nutritional balance of breakfast cereals (averages)
unbalance 2011/12
slight 8.70c, Oat breakfast cereals
~ 23.82s, Muesli breakfast cereals
moderate 31.11c, Wheat breakfast cereals
high 78.35c, Corn breakfast cereals
~ 80.03c, Rice breakfast cereals
extreme 121.81fb, Bran breakfast cereals
(Results based on research by Perezgonzalez, 2012a2.)

These results are applicable to those occasions when breakfast cereals are combined with plain water or are eaten dry. Oats, for example, are often made into porridge by using water instead of milk, while it is not strange to snack on some dry cereals. In these occasions, above BNI values describe well the average nutritional balance of the ingested cereal. When cereals are combined with other ingredients, however, such combination will alter the final nutritional balance, thus making above indexes less dependable (see, for example, Perezgonzalez, 2012b3, for the BNI of on-the-go liquid breakfasts, and Perezgonzalez, 2012c4, for a simulation of breakfast meals).

These results suggest the recommendation of using oat-based breakfast cereals either on their own or in combination with water for a balanced meal. Muesli-based breakfast cereals may also make more balanced meals, although different brands may vary widely, and some care is needed in order to choose more balanced options (eg, by choosing those with less added sugar or those with a greater fiber content). As for the remaining breakfast cereals, and in order to balance out their nutritional profile, it is better to mix them with other ingredients as part of a meal.


Jose D PEREZGONZALEZ (2012). Massey University, Turitea Campus, Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand. (JDPerezgonzalezJDPerezgonzalez).

Want to know more?

BNI-INE - Referents and averages list
This BNI page offers the latest information on the nutritional balance of different foods.
Wiki of Science - Balance Nutrition Index™ (BNI™)
This Wiki of Science page offers more information about the BNI™ technology.
Wiki of Science - Nutritional balance of foods
This Wiki of Science provides links to other foods, including the breakfast cereals discussed above.


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