Looking for Healthy Cereals?

One of the most common questions people ask me is, “What are good healthy breakfast cereals, and what should I be looking for on the label?”  A recent Consumer’s Report offers a simple, clear answer, specifically regarding cereals marketed to children.  The same factors apply to adults, so take note for yourself as well as your children!

Four cereals scored “very good”, based on their relatively low sugar content and relatively high fiber content.  They are General Mills’ Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Kix, as well as Quaker’s Life cereal.  The top pick of the bunch was Cheerios with only 1 gram of sugar and a decent dose of fiber (3g) in every serving.

Some cereals, like Rice Krispies, did not score as high because of their higher sodium and lower fiber levels.  Bite-size Frosted Mini Wheats received a “good” rating, despite the 12 grams of sugar per serving, due to high fiber (6g!) and low sodium content.

Cereals marketed to kids tend to be high in sugar – some of them as high as 45-50% of calories by weight.  So if you are looking for cereal for yourself or your children, keep an eye on the sugar.  Less than 6g of sugar per serving is good.  It’s a good idea to look for higher fiber content and low sodium content too.  There are some good choices, but they are not always obvious, so check labels as you shop.

One of my personal favorites is Honey Bunches of Oats with Cinnamon Bunches.  It has only 120 calories, 6g of sugar, and 150mg of sodium in each 3/4 cup serving.  It also has 2g of fiber.  Sometimes I sprinkle it like granola on top of yogurt.  It has far fewer calories and less sugar than many granolas.

Another favorite is Old Fashioned Quaker Oats, my winter warm-up.  It tastes good with just a small bit of sugar and milk and has cholesterol-lowering benefits as well.

If your pantry needs a cereal makeover, take a fresh look at the cereal aisle.  I would be happy to post any of your favorites so others can try them.  There are many other good cereals that were not mentioned by Consumer’s Report on cereals marketed to kids, simply because they are not marketed to kids.  It seems there are new ones on the shelf every time I shop!

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5 responses to “Looking for Healthy Cereals?

  1. Wow, I wouldn’t have guessed that Cheerios tops the list. I’ve found that Cheerios don’t fill me up or sustain me long enough compared to Mini Wheats.
    Thanks for sharings. I’ve had many employees ask me this very question!

    • kimthedietitian

      I know – I don’t find Cheerios to be very filling without something else alongside. It depends on how big your portion is, and Cheerios are only about 100 calories per cup, while more filling cereals are usually more because they are more dense. Remember that the study did not look at cereals aimed at adults, so there may be some that top Cheerios. Checking labels is a good plan, because there are new ones all the time. Sometimes, no matter what kind of cereal I choose, I just need a little more (maybe an egg or 2) to do the trick!

  2. I love Shredded Wheat biscuits. Only 80 Cal for one, but you can add just about anything to them, strawberries and blueberries are my favorite. They are good warm in milk too. No sugar, 6 grams of fiber.

  3. I love Special K Protein Plus. Even though it has 7 gm of sugar, there is 10 gm of protein and 3 gmof fiber. I look for protein in most things I eat.

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