by Neil Welsh
I wouldn’t be surprised if you already have formed an opinion about BelVita breakfast biscuits before reading this review. The marketing claims state that Belvita Breakfast Biscuits provide 4 hours of nutritious steady energy but many people see these products as processed junk that are designed for people who buy their breakfast from petrol stations.
To be honest, I definitely had a preconceived opinion about BelVita. The idea of biscuits for breakfast just doesn’t quite seem right. They are processed, have a huge list of ingredients and, well, they have the word biscuit in the title. Biscuits aren’t breakfast food, are they? Or are they? Time for a closer look to see what the nutritional claims are, what the reality is and try to work out if they are healthy or not.
Belvita Breakfast Biscuits Ingredients
Let’s start with the ingredients. Alarm bells start ringing when you look at the ingredients list of Belvita biscuits. I tried the Milk and Cereals biscuit with around 20 ingredients in it.
Highest ingredients are cereals (wheat flour 48.9% and wholegrain cereal 20%) but as you work your way down you quickly come to sugar and then a whole host of ingredients you wouldn’t find in your local supermarket (can you point me in the direction of the ammonium hydrogen carbonate?).
Belvita Breakfast Biscuits Nutritional profile
In terms of nutritional profile, the Milk and Cereal biscuits weighed in with the following numbers (the basis is a single serving of 4 biscuits (45g) with using a nutritional reference value (NRV) intake of an average adult consuming 2,000 calories per day):
Carbohydrates: 7.4g or 11% of NRV (packaging states that the product contains minimum 17g slowly digestible starch per 100g)
Fat: 1.6g or 9% of NRV
Protein: 0.9g or 7% of NRV
Fibre: 0.8g or 3% of NRV
Sugar: 2.2g or 10% of NRV
Calories: 196 kcal or 10% of NRV
Glycemic Index Value: 45 (this would be classified as low)
These biscuits also contain added minerals Calcium, Magnesium and Iron which gives them a little bit of nutritional boost and makes them healthier than the usual biscuits you would have as a snack.
Interestingly, Belvita’s website also lets us know what is not in their biscuits, it states that “They’re made without high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial flavours or sweeteners”… so that’s good, I think.
There are slight variations in the ingredients across the different BelVita products with the range including Crunchy, Soft Baked, Duo Crunch, etc. In terms of ingredients and nutritional profile, they are very similar, however, if you start drifting into the Duo Crunch Chocolate Hazelnut range then the calories do bump up a touch and so does sugar content.
Here is a nutritional breakdown for different types of Belvita biscuits (the values are per 100g):
|Belvita biscuit type||Carbs||Sugar||Fat||Protein||Calories||Added minerals & vitamins|
|Milk & Cereals||66g||20g||14g||7.8g||435||Calcium, Magnesium, Iron|
|Honey & Nut||67g||26g||15g||7.5g||446||Calcium, Magnesium, Iron|
|Soft Bakes Choc Chip||62g||21g||15g||5.5g||409||Magnesium, Iron, vitamin B6, folic acid|
|Soft Bakes, Filled, Strawberry||64g||19g||11g||4.6g||376||Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Iron|
|Cocoa with Choc Chips||65g||26g||14g||7.7g||433||Calcium, Magnesium, Iron|
|Duo Crunch, Chocolate Hazelnut||68g||28g||16g||7.3g||450||Vitamin E, Thiamin, Magnesium, Iron|
|Duo Crunch, Strawberry & Yogurt||70g||26g||14g||6.9g||445||Vitamin E, Thiamin, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron|
|Yogurt Crunch Live Yogurt||69g||27g||16g||7.4g||455||Vitamin E, Thiamin, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron|
Looking at the table above, you can see that Belvita Soft Bakes Strawberry are the best option since they are the lowest in calories (per 100g) and not as high in sugar as some other types of Belvita biscuits. They also contain less fat per 100g than other biscuits.
Are Belvita biscuits vegan?
If you are wondering whether Belvita biscuits are suitable for vegans, I would say no.
Obviously, the Milk and Cereals biscuit wouldn’t be vegan due to the milk content, which comes in the form of milk powders in the ingredient, however, the packet has a bold “May contain egg, nuts and sesame” so I am guessing that these are produced in a factory where cross-contamination is a consideration.
Are Belvita biscuits gluten-free?
Due to the use of wheat flour, Belvita biscuits are not gluten-free, unfortunately. They also have other ingredients which may contain gluten so they are not suitable for coeliacs.
What’s the taste like?
Now for the big question. Do they taste any good? Let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter if they are the greatest nutritional “superfood” ever invented but if they taste awful then it’s all irrelevant.
Well, they don’t taste awful. They do have quite an artificial flavour and the texture tells you that there are whole grains and fibre is present but they are ok to eat. They are not the kind of thing that I would rush to the kitchen cupboard to eat. I also would not have been shocked if I was told that they had come from an army ration kit either. Having said this, I did eat all four biscuits in my single-serving package so they can’t be that bad!
Do Belvita biscuits have any health benefits?
So, are there any health benefits to be gained from eating BelVita biscuits? Annoyingly, as with most answers in the world of nutrition, the answer here is “it depends”. It depends on where you are now and what you are trying to achieve.
The packet of biscuits I tried had the classic disclaimer of “Enjoyed as part of a varied and balanced diet and healthy lifestyle”. I would have to say yes, these could be enjoyed as part of a healthy lifestyle… but then again, so can Dairy Milk and Mr Kipling Cherry Bakewells.
There is nothing particularly unhealthy from a strictly nutritional point of view, although some of the ingredients definitely raise an eyebrow. But nutrition is more than just a number’s game. It is about taste, pleasure and choosing to eat in a way that fits with the life you want to lead and the goals you want to achieve.
Are many top athletes “enjoying” these biscuits for breakfast? I doubt it. Having said that, I spend a lot of my time working with clients who are concerned about pre-diabetes. Their needs and their eating habits are different. If they are used to highly processed, sugary breakfasts and they liked these biscuits and wanted to swap to these instead then that would be an improvement. There would be further room for improvement away from these biscuits but it would be a step in the right direction.
Would I eat them or serve them to my family? Nope. Not necessarily because they are unhealthy but more because there are better options out there. I definitely wouldn’t feed them to kids. Again, not necessarily due to the nutritional values but more because of the nutritional concepts.
A child is more than likely going to struggle to understand that these are “breakfast” biscuit. Let’s not plant the seed that biscuits are ok for breakfast because before long you know that you a going to end up with a breakfast table argument about why we shouldn’t eat chocolate hobnobs for breakfast!
One marketing point that these biscuits have is that they are convenient. Hell, you don’t even have to put these in a bowl and pour milk on them! But nutrition should not be sacrificed for convenience, at least not at the start of every day. It takes 5 minutes to scramble an egg and eat it. If you only have time to eat a biscuit in the morning for breakfast then “nutrition” is not your biggest concern!
On the plus side, Belvita breakfast biscuits do contain some minerals, vitamins and fibre which are all beneficial for your body so at least you will get something good out of them. But the amount of these beneficial nutrients is not that much and won’t make much difference to your health.
So who are these biscuits for? The side of the box shows a beautifully mocked-up picture of a serving suggestion. Four BelVita biscuits served alongside some yoghurt, fruit and a cup of black coffee. I’m pretty sure not many people are enjoying that every morning. I hate to say it but even though they are not the worst thing to eat nutritionally, I still think that these biscuits are targeted at the kind of people that buy their breakfasts from a petrol station.
The bottom line is, if you care about your health you wouldn’t want to eat these biscuits every day but having them as an occasional treat as part of a healthy and balanced diet is totally acceptable.
Neil Welsh a nutrition coach who specialises in working with clients who are concerned about prediabetes. An estimated that up to 7 million people have prediabetes and are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you want to find out more about how to stop reverse the signs of prediabetes without giving up all the things you love then check out Neil’s Prediabetes Reversal Blueprint here: http://neilwelshnutrition.com/blueprint/