With more than 100 kinds of cereal in many grocery store aisles, choosing a healthy box can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. In order to spare your sanity and to help you make a healthy choice, we've done the work for you. (See What a Healthy Breakfast Looks Like.)
We've highlighted 9 of the healthiest breakfast cereals on store shelves (listed in no particular order) that meet our guidelines for sugar, salt and fiber (see more details below). We've also outlined the key nutrition criteria you should pay attention to when choosing cereal so you can make a healthy choice.
9 of the Healthiest Breakfast Cereals
• Barbara's Puffins (Original or Cinnamon)
• Uncle Sam Strawberry Cereal (or other varieties)
• Kashi Heart to Heart Warm Cinnamon Oat
• Post Bran Flakes
• Familia Swiss Müesli (No Added Sugar)
• Bear Naked Granola
3 Ways to Choose A Healthy Breakfast Cereal
1. Go For Fiber
Aim to get fiber from whole grains--they should be listed as the first ingredient. Many cereals bump up fiber content with functional fibers (isolated, nondigestible carbohydrates), like inulin and oat fiber.
Aim For: Dietary Fiber ≥ 3 g
2. Save on Sugar
Look for sugar toward the end of the ingredient list (which means it has less of it). Also, watch out for multiple forms of sugar (and its many aliases, like fruit juice concentrate or evaporated cane juice). Many cereals use dried fruit that's been coated with sugar. Better to add fresh or unsweetened dried fruit for natural sweetness.
Aim For: Sugar ≤ 7 g
3. Limit Sodium
Some cereals are so low in calories you may be tempted to eat more. But if you double your portion, your breakfast can easily eat up a quarter of your daily allotment of sodium since many cereals hover around 200 mg of sodium per serving and milk adds another 100 mg sodium per cup.
Aim For: Sodium ≤ 240 mg per serving
What's your favorite healthy breakfast cereal?
By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.
Brierley's interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as nutrition editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master's degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.
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