How to pick the healthiest breakfast cereal
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. We’ve outlined the key nutrition criteria you should pay attention to, based on the big three—sugar, salt and fiber.
Related: "Healthy" Kid Foods that Aren't
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.
Look for: Dietary Fiber ≥ 3 g per serving
Related: Grab & Go High Fiber Breakfasts
Related recipe from Eating Well: Almond-Honey Power Bar
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.
Look for: Sodium ≤ 240 mg per serving
Related: Shopping Tips to Keep Sodium Down
Related recipe from Eating Well: Maple-Nut Granola
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.
Look for: Sugar ≤ 7 g per serving
Related recipe from Eating Well: Cranberry Muesli
Cereals in the Sweet Spot
Here are some cereals you might try:
- 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
Related recipe from Eating Well: Banana-Bran Muffins