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Porridge still best breakfast to avoid salt and sugar

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CHOOSE to start your day wisely - as some "healthy" cereals have far more salt than their breakfast rivals.

Porridge and Weetabix contain up to 10 times more fibre and just a fraction of the salt and sugar in other best-sellers.

But Kelloggs cornflakes contain up to 66pc more salt than some own-brand rivals.

Kelloggs Special K meanwhile is marketed as a healthy breakfast cereal but has 17 times as much sugar as porridge, with half the fibre.

A survey by the Irish Independent of the country's favourite breakfast cereals found that, even among the healthier options, there's a big variation in nutritional content.

Nutritionists recommend that the healthiest breakfast cereal is one that's high in fibre but low in sugar and salt - so we looked at the top-selling brands and their own-brand imitators to see how they fared.

Weetabix and other wheat biscuits have the best fibre content at 10g per 100g - which means you'd get nearly 4g, or 16pc of your recommended daily fibre intake, from a typical serving of two.

By contrast, the fibre level in 100g of Kelloggs Rice Krispies is just 1g whereas there's 1.13g salt - so you'd be getting less fibre than salt in a bowl.

Flahavans Quick Oats meanwhile has a gut-friendly 8.3g of fibre and Odlums Porridge Oats has 9.1g fibre per 100g. Both of these are very low in sugar and have only trace amounts of salt, making them excellent choices.

Under the UK's traffic lights labelling system, foods with more than 1.5g of salt per 100g get a red light.

Most of the breakfast cereals we surveyed are now in the medium - or amber - salt range of 0.3 to 1.5g per 100g.

Kelloggs has reduced the salt content of its cornflakes in recent years to 1.25g per 100g, but it's still up to 66pc higher in salt than some own-brand rivals such as Lidl Crownfield Cornflakes.

Asked why its salt content was much higher than other cornflake makes, Kelloggs said it had reduced the salt in its major cereal brands by at least 50pc since 1998.

"For the past 16 years we have been listening to our consumers and nutrition policy leaders and gradually reduced the amount of salt in our products without compromising on taste," it said.

The latest brands report from Checkout magazine shows that Flahavans has shot to the top of the Irish breakfast cereal brands, closely followed by Weetabix, with Kelloggs Corn Flakes, Special K and Rice Krispies also in the top five.

The good news here is that plainer cereals outsell the sugar-loaded varieties such as Coco Pops and Sugar Puffs.

Irish Independent