The Best Healthy CerealsDo you get confused when cruising down the cereal aisle? One cereal package carries the claim "helps prevent heart disease" and another touts "low sugar." But reading the fine print to discover which is best can literally take all day. To save you time, money, and sanity, we developed nutrition criteria to help you choose the right cereal for you and your family.
So what makes a good, wholesome cereal? We believe it should contain a serving of whole grains (16g) or at least have a whole grain as the first ingredient, be relatively low in sugar (10g or less), be a good source of fiber (3g per serving), and be free of artificial colors and dyes.
Best Cereal for KidsConsumer Reports agrees that Cheerios is one of the best cereals for kids. Low in sugar and high in whole-grain oats, it's a win-win. It also contains 40% of the daily value (DV) of iron, which is important for growing children (especially toddlers). Its nutty taste makes it a favorite with milk, in homemade trail mix, or on its own as a snack.
Cereal Stats: Whole grains: 16g, Sugar: 1g, Fiber: 3g
Runner Up: Trader Joes Os is almost identical and is a bit more economical.
Best Cereal for FiberBarbara's Bakery High Fiber Cereal has an impressive 14g of fiber with a surprisingly good taste. In fact, this line of high-fiber cereals are all superb choices. Unlike other super-high fiber cereals that contain mostly wheat bran, this one is loaded with whole grains, too, making it a well-rounded choice. Remember, whole grains contain the bran, germ, and endosperm part of the grain (the whole grain) making it preferable to just wheat bran.
Cereal stats: Whole Grain: 24g, Sugar: 8g, Fiber 14g
Runner up: Some people just have to have their bran, and our favorite is Kellogg's All Bran with 10g fiber and 6g sugar per serving.
Best Whole Grain PunchThere are a lot of great whole-grain cereals on the market, but Kellogg’s Unfrosted Mini Wheats Bite Size stands out because it has a whopping 58g of whole grains per serving (that more-than meets the recommended day's worth). It also has a nutty taste, is virtually sugar free, and is loaded with fiber.
Cereal Stats: Whole Grain: 58g, Sugar: 1g, Fiber: 6g
Runner Up: Post Shredded Wheat Wheat’n Bran is a close second with 57g whole grain, <1g sugar, and 8g fiber.
Best High-Protein CerealBecause cereals are made with grains, they typically contain little protein. But when Kashi came on the scene in 1984 they changed all that. Their original Go Lean Crunchy Fiber Twigs cereal contains a whopping 13g of protein per serving from added soy. With its fiber and protein content, Go Lean is sure to keep you going all morning long. (We let the whole grains slide because of the high fiber and protein content.)
Cereal Stats: Whole Grain: 8g, Sugar: 8g, Protein: 13g, Fiber: 10g
Runner up: Another cereal from Kashi, Go Lean Crunch is our next choice with 9g protein and a crunchy, sweet flavor.
Best Sweet CerealSpecial K Multi-Grain Oats and Honey is a sweet way to start your morning while still getting a dose of whole grains from whole-grain wheat, whole-grain oats, and wheat bran. We let it slide that there are only 11g of whole grain. Why? This cereal provides the ultimate sweet treat for only 8g of sugar per serving.
Cereal Stats: Whole Grain: 11g, Sugar: 8g, Fiber: 3g
Runner Up: Barbara's Bakery Shredded Spoonful Multigrain cereal is a close second with 15g whole grain, 4g fiber, 5g sugar, and a naturally sweet flavor from honey.
Best Cereal with Healthy FatsLook for cereals that contain healthy fats. Remember that they don't have to be no- or low-fat as long as the fat is from healthy sources. Post Great Grains with Pecans is a great example of how to do it right. With pecans, vegetable oils, and a whopping 35g of whole grains per serving, this cereal is a winner. And the taste is simply out of this world.
Cereal Stats: Whole Grain: 35g, Sugar: 8g, Fiber: 5g, Fat: 6g (.5g saturated)
Runner Up: Nuts like pecans, almonds, and sunflower seeds contribute to the 7g of healthy fat and 7g fiber in Kirkland Signature Spiced Pecan cereal (Costco brand).
Best Bonus Nutrition CerealIt's hard to know if all the fancy ingredients in some cereals are really necessary. Well, we found a cereal that really measures up: Health Valley Organic Golden Flax Cereal. This provides 1000 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids as well as 6g fiber and 6g protein.
Cereal Stats: Whole Grain: (first 6 ingredients are whole grains) Fiber: 6g, Omega-3: 1000mg, Protein: 6g
Runner Up: Trader Joe's Organic Golden Flax cereal contains 5 different whole grains and 1000mg Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) omega-3 fatty acids (from flax).
Choose the Best Healthy Cereals
Whether you are looking for a cereal that's loaded with fiber or perfect for kids, we’ve picked the best cereals for you and your family. By MaryAnn Jacobsen, MS, RD