The Breakfast Cereal Information Service

Nutritional Information


Fibre is important for digestive health. The UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommended that adults should consume 30g fibre a day[1]. Choosing a higher fibre breakfast cereal helps to get the day off to a good start by making a significant contribution to fibre intakes.

There are two different types of fibre in our food:

  •   Soluble fibre
  •   Insoluble fibre

Both types of fibre can help the body in different ways as described below.


Soluble fibre

Soluble fibre can be digested by the body, and may help to reduce cholesterol as well as helping to prevent or manage constipation. Oats, barley, beans, lentils, fruit and vegetables are good sources of soluble fibre.  Beta-glucan is a type of soluble fibre notably found in oats and barley. It contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels, and has been shown to lower or reduce blood cholesterol. [2],[3]


Insoluble fibre

Insoluble fibre cannot be digested. It passes through the gut without being broken down, and helps other foods to move through the digestive system more easily. Insoluble fibre helps to keep bowels healthy, and helps to prevent constipation and other digestive problems.  Wholemeal bread, whole grain breakfast cereals, high fibre bran cereals, nuts and seeds are all good sources of insoluble fibre.

Eating foods that are high in fibre has been associated with feeling fuller for longer. This may help if you are trying to lose weight.[4]

Breakfast cereals are great sources of dietary fibre - particularly bran, whole grain and oat-based cereals. Many breakfast cereals contain whole grains, which are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fibre.

A recent scientific review found that for each 3 servings/d increase in whole-grain intake, there was a 19% reduction in the risk of death from all causes, specifically a 26% reduction in death from heart disease and a 9% reduction in death from cancer [5]. Fibre adds bulk to the diet whilst contributing less calories than other carbohydrates and therefore may be helpful for satiety and maintaining a healthy weight.

Data shows that breakfast cereals contribute 9% of the fibre in the diet of children aged 4-10[6] and the consumption of breakfast cereal is generally associated with higher fibre intake [7].

[1]Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (2015) Carbohydrates and Health.  The Stationery Office, London

[2] EFSA (2011) Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to beta-glucans from oats and barley and maintenance of normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations (ID 1236, 1299), increase in satiety leading to a reduction in energy intake (ID 851, 852), reduction of post-prandial glycaemic responses (ID 821, 824), and “digestive function” (ID 850) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal, 9(6):2207 [21 pp.].

[3] EFSA (2011) Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to barley beta-glucans and lowering of blood cholesterol and reduced risk of (coronary) heart disease pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal, 9(12):2471 [13 pp.].

[5] Wei H. et al. (2016) Whole-grain consumption and the risk of all-cause, CVD and cancer mortality: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Br J Nutr, 116:514-525.   

[6] NatCen Social Research, MRC Human Nutrition Research, University College London. Medical School. NDNS results from years 7 and 8 combined of the rolling programme for 2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016: report. UK Data Service.

[7] Michels N. et al. (2016) Ready-to-eat cereals improve nutrient, milk and fruit intake at breakfast in European adolescents. Eur J Nutr, 55: 771.


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