Instant or traditional porridge?

Porrigde with berries

Is microwave or instant porridge as good for me as traditional porridge?

BHF dietitian Victoria Taylor says:

Porridge is a healthy, nutritious way to start the day. However, there is much debate about which oats are the best to use and which cooking method is healthiest.

There are many varieties of porridge oats, including rolled, quick and instant. Regardless of the type, shape or size, all porridge oats are wholegrains and they all contain a soluble fibre called beta-glucan, which can help lower your cholesterol level if you have 3g or more of it daily, as part of a healthy diet. (A 40g serving of porridge oats contains 2g of beta-glucan.)

Instant porridge is fine if you stay away from flavoured or sweetened versions

There’s nothing wrong with microwaving porridge, especially if you are in a rush in the morning. Instant porridge is fine if you stay away from flavoured or sweetened versions. Even healthy-sounding flavours such as apple and blueberry generally contain added sugars.

Whichever porridge you choose, make it with low-fat milk or water to keep the calories down and minimise saturated fat, especially if you are trying to lower your cholesterol levels.

Don’t add salt, as an excess intake can raise your blood pressure over time, and avoid adding sugar, syrup or honey. A tablespoon of syrup, for example, adds 60kcal and 16g of sugar – nearly a third of the daily maximum sugar intake for a woman. Maple syrup and honey may sound natural, but aren’t any healthier and the sugar content is very similar.

For extra flavour, add fruit such as bananas, berries, raisins, apples or dates. These help towards your 5-a-day. A pinch of cinnamon adds a sweet flavour without any sugar.

Victoria Taylor Meet the expert

Victoria Taylor is a registered dietitian with more than ten years’ experience. Her work for the NHS focused on weight management and community programmes for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. At the BHF she advises on diet and nutrition.

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