Muesli is one of my all time favourite breakfast foods – did someone say ‘ALL DAY BREAKFAST’?! But seriously, I love that I can combine some of my favourite foods; yoghurt, muesli, nuts, fruit and get so many nutrients for my body from one meal. But waking down that grocery isle, my biggest dilemma (#firstworldproblem) is that there are so many to choose from! And they ALL sound delish! How do I pick the right one for me? Are all the ones with ‘superfoods’ healthy? With all the marketing companies competing for our attention, it just makes it harder to pick the right one. Don’t want to get sucked into the marketing ploys like I have before? Read ahead.
Lets talk about nutrition panels – I can feel some of you nodding off (zzzzzZ). Now before you switch off, hear me out. Nutrition panels provide loads of great information and can help you choose the right foods – but only if you know what to look for. All that jargon and numbers can be confusing especially if you have more of a creative mind. I’ll raise my hand to say I have been caught red handed judging a book – or cereal box – by it’s cover: “oh but it looks so pretty!”, ” ooo it says superfood!”. Unfortunately the ones that look and sound the most healthy aren’t always the best. Here’s a bit of a guide to choosing the right muesli/cereal for you.
What to look for in a ‘healthy’ muesli
‘Healthy’ is a term that tends to differ between people. These are some guidelines for what you can consider when choosing and picking between those enticing boxes.
1. Choose one that’s high in fibre
One of the main nutrients in grains and cereals (which muesli is apart of) is fibre! If your muesli doesn’t have lots of fibre, then it probably has a lot of other stuff you may not want in your body. Fibre has so many great benefits to your body including heart health, gut health and lowering your risk of other diseases (read more about how eating fibre may be saving your life). So how much fibre should a muesli have? Look for one that has at least 3g of fibre PER SERVE. The more the better!
2. Choose one that has lower amounts of added sugar
Added sugar is the kind that you want to avoid. It’s the one that in excess has been linked to an increased risk of lifestyle diseases. Sugar isn’t always bad and avoiding is completely isn’t necessary, but avoiding high amounts of added sugars in the diet is always a positive. Just like a chameleon or a celebrity trying to fly under the radar, added sugar disguises itself under many different names: honey, rice malt syrup, glucose, fructose, golden syrup, maple syrup, caster sugar, dextrose, maltose, raw sugar, coconut sugar. At the end of the day, it’s all still sugar. Another sneaky ingredient is dried fruit. Dried fruit can be okay in small amounts, but in something like muesli, it can tend to add quite a bit of sugar. Why not opt for fresh fruit instead?
There are two ways to check how your muesli (or cereal) is tracking in sugar. First, you can have a look at the ingredients list. Because ingredients have to be listed by weight (heaviest to lightest), the first three ingredients usually make up most of the product. Try to aim for a muesli that has sugar listed later in the ingredients list.
The second way is to have a look at the nutrition panel. Instead of sifting through a whole ingredients list with items that no one can even pronounce, it tells you exactly how much sugar is in your packaged food. Look at the “per 100g” and aim for a muesli that has less than 15g of sugar in the column.
3. Pick something you like!
Nauseous thinking of eating the muesli you loathe and bought only because your friend told you it was full of ‘superfoods’ ? Don’t pick something you think is gross, choose one you love! Healthy eating doesn’t need to be hard, and it should definitely be enjoyable.
For me? I like my muesli to pack a crunch which is why I usually choose ones with nuts or add my own. Nuts are also a great source of healthy unsaturated fats that are good for our heart health and fibre which is good for our gut. I personally hate dried fruit in muesli purely because I hate the chewy texture. As mentioned before, dried fruit can also contribute quite a lot of added sugar, so I prefer adding fresh fruit.
Tip: The Health Star Rating also considers the amount of sugar and fibre in cereals and muesli and can be useful to compare similar foods. Next time you’re at the shops, have a look at how your muesli compares.
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