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10 of the Best Cereals You Should Be Eating

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/21/2012 10:00 AM   :  138 comments   :  593,178 Views

You have heard it said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While some people question this recommendation, others have quick and healthy breakfast favorites they regularly include at the beginning of their day. Many of us enjoy a warm bowl of oatmeal during cold winter months and have created healthy recipes to tickle our taste buds. As the weather changes, some of us seek out cooler healthy breakfast alternatives like fruit smoothies, yogurt or cold cereal.
 
With all the food-labeling loopholes, selecting a healthy cereal can be tricky. Ignore the catchy claims on the front of the box and go straight to the nutrition facts label instead. Here's what to look for:
  • Remember the "Rule of Fives": Choose cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving, and less than 5 grams of sugar.
  • Look for each serving to contain at least 3 grams of protein.
  • Read the ingredients list. The top ingredients should be "whole wheat," or "wheat bran"—not just "wheat." These whole grains are naturally low in fat, and high in fiber.
  • Avoid cereals that list hydrogenated oils, artificial dyes or colors, and chemical preservatives as ingredients—these have no place in a healthy diet!
Here are 10 of the best cold cereals to keep on your pantry shelf.

Cereal Serving Size Nutrition Profiling Index (NPI) Score Total Carbs (g) Fat (g) Protein (g) Fiber (g) Sugar (g)
Post Spoon Size Shredded Wheat 1 cup 82 40 g 1 g 6 g 6 g 0 g
Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs 2 cup 82 30 g 1 g 4 g 2 g 0 g
Kellogg's Unfrosted Mini Wheat Bites 1 cup 82 46 g 1 g 6 g 6 g 1 g
Uncle Sam Flakes 3/4 cup 78 38 g 5 g 7 g 10 g 1 g
Fiber One - Original 1 cup 78 50 g 2 g 4 g 28 g 0 g
Nature's Path Synergy 8 Cereal 3/4 cup 78 24 g 1 g 3 g 5 g 4 g
Weetabix 1/2 cup 74 26 g 1 g 4 g 4 g 4 g
Kellogg's All-Bran Original 1/2 cup 72 23 g 1 g 4 g 10 g 6 g
Cascadian Farms Multigrain Squares 3/4 cup 70 25 g 0.5 g 3 g 2 g 4 g
General Mill's Cheerios 1 cup 58 20 g 2 g 3 g 3 g 1 g
The Nutrition Profiling Index (NPI) Score is a measure (0-100) of overall nutrition quality based on both the positive and negative aspects of the nutritional profile.
 
According to Cereal F.A.C.T.S. (Food Advertising to Children and Teens Score), cereal companies spend millions of dollars each year specifically marketing to children. They estimate that the average preschooler will be over 600 cereal ads in a year with colorful and fun loving character mascots. Unfortunately, many of the cereals with the lowest NPI scores have the highest marketing rate.
 
Here are 10 of the worst cold breakfast cereals that you will want to limit on your pantry shelf.
Cereal Serving Size Nutrition Profiling Index (NPI) Score Total Carbs (g) Fat (g) Protein (g) Fiber (g) Sugar (g)
Kellogg's Froot Loops 1 cup 38 25 g 1 g 1 g 3 g 12 g
General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch 3/4 cup 36 25 g 3 g 1 g 2 g 10 g
Kellogg's Corn Pops 1 cup 36 29 g 0 g 1 g 3 g 10 g
General Mills Lucky Charms 3/4 cup 36 22 g 1 g 2 g 2 g 10 g
General Mills Reese's Puffs 3/4 cup 34 22 g 3 g 2 g 1 g 10 g
Kellogg's Choconilla Cocoa Krispies 3/4 cup 34 27 g 1 g 1 g 0 g 12 g
Kellogg's Special K Blueberry 3/4 cup 32 26 g 0 g 2 g 3 g 8 g
Kellogg's Special K Chocolatey Delight 3/4 cup 32 25 g 2 g 2 g 3 g 9 g
Belgo & Bellas YogActive Chocolatey Pillows 1/3 cup 32 19 g 5 g 2 g 1 g 10 g
Quaker Cap'N Crunch Berries 3/4 cup 30 22 g 1 g 1 g 1 g 11 g
The Nutrition Profiling Index (NPI) Score is a measure (0-100) of overall nutrition quality based on both the positive and negative aspects of the nutritional profile. 
 
For more information about a healthy breakfast, check out these articles:

How to Pick a Healthy Breakfast Cereal
No More Boring Oatmeal!
Members Share Their Favorite Breakfasts
Eat Breakfast to Lose Weight
Delicious Ways to Boost Fiber Intake

 

Do you regularly eat cereal for breakfast or as an evening snack? Which list does your favorite cereal come from?







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Comments

  • SYINPTOWN
    88
    Please consider paying attention to cereal's without any sugar at all as some use ASPARTAME instead. Personally, I try to avoid this chemical along with other preservatives. I thought Fiber One was an awesome healthy score and delicious until I read the ingredients. Shredded Wheat has no sugar or aspartame. - 5/30/2012   12:03:54 AM
  • TINYBUBBLES55
    87
    I LIKE PUFFED WHOLE WHEAT CEREAL WITH SKIM MILK BERRIES OR HALF BANANA - 5/29/2012   11:55:39 PM
  • 86
    I'm wondering why Shredded Wheat N Bran didn't make the list..........it meets the criteria for "best cereals" ??? - 5/29/2012   7:33:25 PM
  • 85
    I'm a Dukanian.We all eat only oat bran everyday.I have lost 102 pounds since I started - 5/29/2012   5:57:10 PM
  • VERDANCYHIME
    84
    I'm a big fan of Grape Nuts. They're a bit high in sugar, but they have a lot of fiber and protein, 5 g of fiber, 6 of protein per serving,with a decent amount of whole grains. I like that a serving takes a long time to eat because of how crunchy it is. It's one of the few cereals that makes me feel very full for my entire day. - 5/29/2012   5:30:03 PM
  • 83
    The only cereals I eat are Kellogg's Raisin Bran, and old fashioned long cooking cereals like steel cut oats or large flake oatmeal. I also eat Red River cereal, which is a cooked whole grain cereal that contains a variety of grains and seeds in it. I generally skip adding any sugar to any of them, and I only use non-fat skim milk.

    I think the thing that most amazes me, when it comes to cereal, is that people will complain about the fat and sugar in some of the boxed cereals, but when you watch them eat their cooked cereals, they load up on full fat milk (instead of skim milk) and brown sugar or honey. When it comes to calories, brown sugar and honey, are just as bad as refined sugar, and will stick to your arse just as firmly. - 5/29/2012   3:17:08 PM
  • MA-TWO-FIVE
    82
    VRCATON and SNOWFLAKE70 I happen to be in the grass roots farming biz, GMO is GMO, they are developing bug and drought resistant grains so we don't have to use chemicals to control them and to help us raise more grain to feed a starving world and the people who insist on a certain level of food quality. An by the way, the "Big Agri" business that you refer to should be changed to "Big Corporate" biz. The grass roots people get very little of that money, get your facts straight before you start forming opinions. - 5/29/2012   2:12:42 PM
  • 81
    Wake up and smell the money people! The cereals listed are all BIG AGRI business moneymakers ... Organic and locally made is the way to go. - 5/29/2012   2:00:43 PM
  • KKMOLINSKI
    80
    who knows what?? I'm a diabetic an nothing is good for you . Any one know what is the best cereal? I'm trying hard to do weight control also. Keeping done carbs and sugar ath the same time, so I gave up on cereal except for Red Mill raw oats, I put in flaxseed, and use some almond soy milk, I also add lots of fiber, I also found making my own muffins from the Red Mill Oat Bran recipe on the package is not only a good breakfast but is a healthy snak in evening if I want something sweet. I add cranberries, or dates,golden rasians to the recipe. Its load with fiber and I can make it sweat and leave out the brown sugar..use applesauce and add more fiber. I can do without the box cereal - 5/29/2012   1:46:59 PM
  • SNOWFLAKE70
    79
    I eat 1 cup of Kroger Value Puffed wheat with a 1/3 cup of blueberries and 1/2 cup of fat free milk every day. This cereal has no sugar, no fat, only 60 cal per cup and best of all is it only 99 cents for a bag. It can only be purchased at Kroger stores (Fry's in AZ) - 5/29/2012   1:32:06 PM
  • 78
    Ma-to-five-GMO is not referring to naturally crossed breeding. It refers to seeds that have been changed and modified to poisen and deter bugs, withstand drought, and make a host of other "fixes." It can easily take over ALL strains of natural generations of plants-not to mention we have zero idea of what it could do to us eating it long-term. This is completely different than what you are talking about, and is quite new to our food chain. - 5/29/2012   1:27:54 PM
  • MA-TWO-FIVE
    77
    Sorry to burst some bubbles but you all need to get proper information about GMO's. The word hybrid means it is genetically modified, where do you think all of our different kinds of melons, apples, squash, tomatoes, etc. comes from, they have all been genetically crossed with other varieties, hence genetically modified. That rainbow of food that we are all trying to eat to stay healthy and ward off diseases, a veritable plethora of GMO's. The general public has the idea that GMO means chemical change which is so untrue. My suggestion is that you find a farmer that grows different varieties of grains, get a sample and take it to a laboratory of your choice and have them test it for proteins, chemical residue, etc. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the results. GMO's have been around for decades, don't know why it has become such a big deal, of late. - 5/29/2012   12:33:21 PM
  • HISMARTHA1
    76
    The cereal my husband and I eat almost every day is: 1/2 cup of Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain flourless Golden Flax cereal by Food for Life. No sugar, high in fiber, and awesome in flavor. We top it with fruit, unsalted nuts unsalted seeds, with a bit of fat free milk. Yum! And it keeps you feeling full longer. - 5/29/2012   12:26:31 PM
  • AJWHITTI
    75
    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read. Processed breakfast cereals are not good for you no matter what they have in them. Fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and oatmeals/grains are best. Every day, I move farther and farther away from SP. And this is the reason why. It makes me sad. - 5/29/2012   11:41:19 AM
  • 74
    Very poorly written article. How about some reasons why the bad cereals are bad? You reference NPI, but don't clarify what the acronym stands for. The labels "good" and "bad" are arbitrary, since there are no guidelines laid out as to what makes a cereal good or bad. Your journalism professor would be displeased. Fail/incomplete. - 5/29/2012   11:37:12 AM
  • LAWSOTTIE1
    73
    What size is a cup??? 30g? - 5/29/2012   11:10:52 AM
  • TEXGAL8
    72
    I agree with several people who recommend steel cut oats as a more nutritional cereal than any cereal listed. In the winter I love it hot with cinnamon andnutmeg. In the summer I recommend not cooking it but leaving a bowl of the oats in the frig over night layered with organic yogurt and fresh berries. The oats are softened for enjoying the next morning and very tasty. - 5/29/2012   11:10:48 AM
  • TREESH08
    71
    Ha! Fiber One original has a whole lot of chemicals including aspartame! - 5/29/2012   10:35:54 AM
  • 70
    My problem with this list is that a lot of thes cereals are touted as being "natural", "organic" and "heart healthy when in fact they are some of the less desirable cereals to eat. Some are not made of whole grain but just have a whole grain listed as the first ingrediant. Others are made with genetically modified grains (GM) which nutritionists have proven to lack the nutrients of non- GM grains! I get and use steel gut oats that are guarenteed to be non-GM and pectitide free. I very seldom eat any other cereal as ALL of the listed(both good and bad) are made with highly processed grains that now days are GM crops (oats, wheat, corn, soybrans) You have to remember, these corporations are out to make money, not healthy products! Many of them seem to care less as long as they can make a profit. One of the top 10 for sure uses these GM grains and you probably read about it. They deny it but independent lab tests have shown it!
    The steel cut oats look to be expensive but the small package you get cooks up to B a lot of cereal. I cook them in a 5 serving batch and refrigerate untill warming in a microwave! - 5/29/2012   10:03:42 AM
  • 69
    If your family eats cereal, by the time your kids are 6 or 7 they can help in the cereal aisle. I told my kids that they could get any cereal they wanted as long as there was less than 3 grams of sugar and more than some number of grams of fiber. - 5/29/2012   9:55:54 AM
  • 68
    Oatmeal is the only cereal you should eat. BTW for all you carb-addicted grain eaters, we don't need grains to survive. The fact bread has been around for thousands of years means absolutely nothing in terms of healthy nutrition. There is no evidence to support the inclusion of grains in our diet and some would argue that they are implicated in the decline of human health. - 5/29/2012   9:53:35 AM
  • 67
    My thought on this is that many cereals toute themselves as "natural" or "healthy cereals that are not as thsay seem. Take - 5/29/2012   9:51:07 AM
  • MRDCLEVELAND
    66
    Why does the author bother with her 5 of Fives "rule" if she doesn't even bother to go by it herself? I love Cheerios and eat them every day, but what a dumb list, given the author's self-imposed and completely ignored "rule." - 5/29/2012   9:46:45 AM
  • RAJACK48
    65
    Oatmeal is a much better choice! - 5/29/2012   9:21:39 AM
  • 64
    What??? No All Bran Buds? I have IBS and that 1/3 cup everyday keeps me from spending half my day in the bathroom! If you are going to make a list of the best, at least stick to your own guidelines. - 5/29/2012   8:31:15 AM
  • TREESH08
    63
    I wonder how many of the "best" cereals have chemicals and preservatives in them? I would have liked to see more natural cereals listed. - 5/29/2012   8:30:11 AM
  • BONNYR
    62
    Lissakaytn, after I finish my Froot Loops, I know a great donut shop where we could meet for coffee! - 5/29/2012   7:47:50 AM
  • JPEARL127
    61
    How wonderful to learn that the cereals I prefer made the cut, but how disappointingly obvious the worst choices. I would have liked to have seen how some of the purportedly "healthy" but not really healthy cereals rated rather than the obvious sugar-laden cereals that would be obvious to most people working on a program of healthy eating. - 5/29/2012   7:26:48 AM
  • LISSAKAYTN
    60
    This is a list of sugar, sugar and more sugar. All carbs break down into sugar. All sugar causes blood glucose levels to rise, which triggers the release of insulin. Insulin causes the body to store food energy as FAT. The body, over time, will also eventually become insulin resistant, and after that, diabetic.

    And to answer someone above, no ... humans were not meant to eat massive amount of grains. No mammal naturally eats grains. Further, today the grains on market are genetically modified, grown with pesticides and Round-up. Wheat especially is bad, it has been mutated through cross-breeding into something that is toxic and causes and whole host of illnesses. See "Wheat Belly" by Dr. William Davis. See the movie "Fat Head" also, available free on Hulu or Netflix. Learn the truth about what we are being told about food.

    Now I am going to go fix a nice healthy breakfast of bacon and eggs and wash it down with coffee and heavy cream. BEST way to start the day ... and while you cereal eaters will be looking for a mid-morning snack, I will be going strong, even long after your lunch and mid-afternoon snack. - 5/29/2012   7:20:03 AM
  • BONNYR
    59
    I'm surprised that you didn't list Froot Loops. My nutritionist recommends that I always aim for a rainbow of color on my plate!! - 5/29/2012   7:19:47 AM
  • 58
    I did notice that the article did ignore one important nutrition factor that should be looked at, Protein. While most cereals on the list was low on sugar, I feel it was way to high on Carbs because when you subtract the fiber you still have up to 50% of the carb calories, and you know that if it is not sweet we will add sugar and you miss the point of low sugar cereal. I did find Kashi does make a higher protein cereal (go lean) that fits better for the people who are trying to dump a few pound while working out.
    Of course most of the time I eat a Protein bar (17g Cars, 4g fat, 20g Protein) and a Can of Coke (39g Carb, 0g fat, 0 gram protein, 34mg Caffeine).
    I guess it just boils down to; ďItís not what you eat, itís what you do with what you eat countsĒ
    - 5/29/2012   6:54:02 AM
  • 57
    I adore cereals and eat it only with low-fat yoghurt...integral cereals, fruit sereals. I just don't like chocolate cereals or stuffed with cream or something else. Only "ordinary" or, as I said, integral...I eat cereals or for breakfast or for dinner.
    - 5/29/2012   5:24:58 AM
  • 56
    I have to say this... WHO FREAKING CARES??? and the crowd going on about the gluten thing... you are fools... humans have been eating food with gluten in it for thousands of years... breads have always been made from grain smashed and called FLOUR... and yet we exist as a species...

    Cereal is a processed food... if you are smart, you choose wisely (and the original idea of 5 and 5 was great, the author should have stopped there...) and then you eat them as part of a balanced diet...

    Too many people are freaking about whether their body can take a couple servings of Fruity Pebbles or Raisin Bran or Kashi... are you kidding me? any of those still provides sustinence for life... and unless you make it the cornerstone of your diet... it won't make a difference in your quality of life or your total nutrition if you are eating wisely the rest of the time..

    Now, all that said.. I love to eat two to three bowls of Captain Crunch with Crunchberries... then go off and work in the yard, or pound out a 5K... it's eating like that and parking your butt on a couch that's going to hurt you...

    Relax people... enjoy life... you an lose weight much more easily if you figure you can eat anything you want as long as you manage your exercise and calories and set some basic nutritional goals... simply physics really. - 5/29/2012   4:32:59 AM
  • 55
    I don`t eat cereal anymore. - 5/27/2012   1:26:55 PM
  • 54
    Shredded Wheat has been a staple in my family since the 1970's. I buy the Spoon Size Shredded Wheat and the Spoon Size Shredded Wheat 'N' Bran. I can eat it plain with milk or control the amount of sugar I add. - 5/24/2012   7:40:27 PM
  • 53
    I sometimes eat sweet cereals as a desert when I want something sweet. I'm sure it's better than a Snickers or Ice Cream
    - 5/24/2012   10:26:15 AM
  • 52
    i love fiber one! - 5/24/2012   7:53:25 AM
  • SEXYSOON13
    51
    Is grape nuts any good? - 5/23/2012   5:15:00 PM
  • 50
    Despite my healthy diet, I absolutely *love* sugar cereals. I know they're full of junk, but it's a weakness of mine if it's in the house (cocoa pebbles, cap'n crunch, cinnamon toast crunch, frosted mini wheats....) Therefore, I just avoid buying them entirely. If it's not around, I can't eat it, and I get to spend my money on foods that are nutritious ('cause dang - sugar cereals are expensive!). I tend to go for eggs, oatmeal or whole grain toast with pb and bananas -- it's proven to be much more filling than cereal ever was for me! Highly recommended and all are still easy/quick to prepare if you're crunched for time! - 5/23/2012   12:38:59 PM
  • TERI081010
    49
    If every one reads labels, they should already know which one's are okay and which you shouldn't eat! Regardless, I don't eat conventional cereals any more, go organic! Say "No" to Monsanto!!! - 5/22/2012   9:47:36 PM
  • 48
    So in your list of top 10 cereals, two of them do not meet the criteria you established - the ' "Rule of Fives": Choose cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving, and less than 5 grams of sugar.':
    Nutrition Profiling Index (NPI) Score
    Cereal Serving Size Total Carbs (g) Fat (g) Protein (g) Fiber (g) Sugar (g)

    Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs 2 cup 82 (TC) 30 g (Fa)1 g (P) 4 g (Fi) 2 g (S) 0 g
    Cascadian Farms Multigrain Squares 3/4 cup 70 25 g 0.5 g 3 g 2 g 4 g


    They are less than 5 g sugar, but neither of them are more than 5 g of fiber.

    And Kashi was just exposed as using GMO-Soy products in their cereals, so I'm not planning to buy any more until that is resolved. I was buying them because they recycled their boxes on the RecycleBank website... but.... I can still recycle cardboard and pasteboard anywhere. Just don't need to be eating cardboard!!
    - 5/22/2012   9:46:25 PM
  • 47
    I would like to see where my cereal rates. I thought for sure it was one of the top 10. Hmmmm. - 5/22/2012   9:10:41 PM
  • 46
    ironic how my favorite cereal from being a teenager was either Grapenuts or shredded wheat, especially the big biscuits. I would just add sweetener and some milk. and that was breakfast. - 5/22/2012   2:55:16 PM
  • 45
    I love eating fruit for breakfast, I'm blessed with a very laid-back retail job so it's easy for me to eat a big bowl of fruit in the morning at work between helping customers (I hate having to leave my bowl of cereal just to come back to soggy mush after a while). I wash & cut up 4-5 different kinds of fruit and divide them into containers for each day of the week. I also add a little fat-free Greek yogurt and organic hemp & flax granola to keep me fuller longer. - 5/22/2012   1:27:39 PM
  • LINDEEBLY
    44
    I can't believe Grape Nuts is not on the healthy list! 7g fiber, 5g sugar... - 5/22/2012   12:56:55 PM
  • CHANGINGK
    43
    I don't eat cereal much anymore but there are times when all I can think about is a bowl of Frosted Flakes or Coco Puffs! - 5/22/2012   11:54:54 AM
  • 42
    I really do not think much of this list!! Included on it are a few cereals made with GM (genetically modified) grains! One near the top calls itself an all natural grain healthy cereal but is made mostly out of GM grains. You are better off buying not just an organic labeled cereal but one labeled "NON-GMO"
    Seems a lot of manufacturers are lying to us with their labeling by using half truths and using products like Hi-fructose corn syrup and GMO grains (which have been proven to be less nutritous than organic grains) and calling them organic or healthy cereals!!! GM grains and their foods have been banned in many other countries! - 5/22/2012   11:07:27 AM
  • ELISEWAY
    41
    I have the Cheerios and Uncle Sam but the original, not the flakes. It includes whole flaxseed which I always thought I bodies didn't deal well with. It seems I've heard that milled flaxseed is better. But I use it mostly on yogurt to give me some crunch. - 5/22/2012   9:08:30 AM
  • 40
    Most cereals are so bad for you. When I am in a rush I eat Trader Joe's High Fiber with a banana and skim milk. Yum..... - 5/22/2012   8:53:10 AM
  • 39
    I love cereal. I appreciated the lists because going to the store and looking at each of the boxes is just to much time. Cheerios seem to be the best and with some 2@ milk; what a treat especially an evening snack - oh, is that OK to have this as a evening snack? - 5/22/2012   8:43:03 AM

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