Are Bran Flakes healthy?

This might only apply to those with IBS-D, but bran is a great source of fibre if you want to get the metabolism started first thing in the morning. It’s also mighty tasty and can be given a whole host of toppings to make it, you know, not boring.

But being on the look-out is crucial if you want a great breakfast experience. Which is getting tougher and tougher as competitors fight tooth and nail for the battle of the bran – it is after all cheap as chips (all it is is grain husk separated from flour after milling) – and, along with the added health benefits, bran is big business at the moment.

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The best thing you can do is steer away from the sugary types which pretend to be healthy and basically, eat with your head first and stomach second. Here’s some helpful hints on finding the perfect soulmate…

Are bran flakes good for me?

The top brand

Kellogg’s All Bran Bran Flakes

Kellogg’s’ ‘All Bran’ range includes loads of variations, which not only makes it super confusing as to which to buy, but also makes you super aware how different they each individually are. All it takes is a couple of words different on the packaging and things dramatically change…

Currently, Kellogg’s Bran Flakes are the leading brand (see here how just 5 manufacturers account for >95% of the cereal market)– and with only 80% wheat bran, you might not be so surprised that the next ingredient is sugar… and after that barley male flavouring. Throw in some salt, honey and false vitamins and minerals and you’ve got your breakfast bowl.

Now, this might initially seem harmless BUT it’s not that hard to produce a bran cereal which has much more bran than this, and much less sugar for that matter. Take Kellogg’s All Bran Original. The only difference between this and the leading brand is that the Bran Flakes are, well, flaked. The Original type are smaller, cylindrical versions of the same thing, but instead had 87% whole wheat bran. A much more wholesome choice.

The basic range

You might find that supermarket own bran flakes are a) always very very cheap and b) much less difficult to decipher the ingredient list. In Tesco’s Bran Flakes there is around 88% wholewheat bran – a much simpler and healthier cereal that the leading brand. Even the fruit version, the Sultana Bran, has around 85% wholewheat content.

The healthiest choice   

Weetabix Crunchy Bran

No longer does ‘bran’ necessarily mean ‘healthy’. Infusions with sugar have left a lot of bran cereals wanting, and I think Kellogg’s try with Optivia – and its subsequent demise in 2014 due to ‘poor consumption rates’ and peoples’ preference of ‘natural over fortified’ – has made people aware that bran is good, only when the contents are good. It goes without saying really.

You may or may not know about Weetabix’s latest introduction to the bran market with their Weetabix Crunchy Bran range. I never saw these in the supermarkets until today when I was actively searching for them (I don’t know – maybe Kellogg’s All-Bran range really is that monopolising along the cereal aisle), but their offering is actually pretty fantastic, and trumps the leading brand and the supermarket brand choices.

In this version you have 94% bran from both wheat and oats and fewer fortified vitamins and minerals. Alternatively, you could pick up a supermarket’s own ‘Whole Oat Bran’ packet. This is of course all oats and not wheat – but this might be a greater choice for those who suffer with IBS. It’s also kinder on the pocket and is a great family-friendly option.

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