Is cereal good for you? Watch out for the added sugars in these brands. (2024)

Daryl AustinUSA TODAY

Few American pantries are without a box or two of cereal. Cereal manufacturers like Kellogg and General Mills havespent billionstelling us for decades that Lucky Charms are "magically delicious," that "Trix are for kids" and that Frosted Flakes are "gr-r-reat!"

Such marketing has no doubt paid off asdata compiled by Googleshows that the most popularly purchased cereal brands in America include many of these favorites, plus a host of others like Rice Krispies, Cheerios, Chex, Special K, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Froot Loops and Cap'n Crunch. Though these brands are no doubt enticing to adults and children alike because of their distinct flavors and colorful packaging, some cereals are certainly better for you to eat than others.

Is cereal healthy?

Many cereal brands can be healthy – especially when one adds in cow's milk and a fruit or nut topping. Cereal can also be a convenient way of kick-starting your metabolism and getting in some much-needed nutrients and energy. And even though cereal isn't going to pack as many nutrients as a plate of eggs, fruit and whole grain toast, for example, eatingsomethingin the morning is almost always better than eating nothing. Studies have demonstrated time and again that skipping breakfast really does have adverse health consequences.

"Cereal requires minimal preparation, is shelf-stable, convenient, affordable and can be a good way to get some fiber in the morning," says Leslie Bonci, a sports dietitian for the Kansas City Chiefs and founder ofActive Eating Advice. "Cereal can also be a great way to get micronutrients and one of the best ways to ensure B vitamin intake is included in your diet." Some cereals can also be a good source of whole grains.

At the same time, "cereals that are made of refined grains – grains that have had parts of the grain kernel removed – are lower in fiber and nutrients," says Kate Zeratsky, a registered dietitian at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Other breakfast diet info: Are eggs good for you? Egg yolks vs. egg whites and how much protein is in your eggs?

Is it OK to eat cereal every day?

The biggest concern associated with eating a large portion of cereal is that many brands have significant quantities of added sugars. The daily value limit of added sugars is 50 grams (about 12 teaspoons) per day, based on a 2,000-calorie diet, per theU.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some cereal brands will get you there in a single bowl. Post's Golden Crisp cereal, for instance, packs 21 grams of added sugars in a single cup – nearly half of an adult's allowance for an entire day, and many of us eat at least two cups of cereal in one bowl without realizing it.

Of course, that isn't concerning if breakfast cereal is where you choose to get your added sugars each day, "but you can ask yourself if you want to have it in your cereal or would you rather have another treat later in the day," offers Zeratsky.

It's also worth noting that added sugar suggestions are less for kids, despite children often being the marketing target of cereal manufacturers. "The recommended amount of added sugars each day for kids is 6 teaspoons, or about 25 grams total," says Bonci.

Heads up: Too many added sugars in your diet can be dangerous. This should be your daily limit.

What is the healthiest cereal?

When trying to pick the healthiest cereals for your family, "look on the nutrition label on the side of the packaging to see how much added sugars there are and which vitamins and minerals are included," advises Bonci.

A single serving of Cheerios, for instance, boasts 10% to 20% of your daily intake needs for B vitamins and vitamins A, C and D. Plus 10% of your daily recommended amount of calcium, 20% of your daily recommended amount of zinc and 70% of your daily recommended amount of iron. And it only has 1 gram of added sugars. Rice Krispies similarly contain many of the same nutrients and only has 4 grams of added sugars.

Cereals that are good sources of dietary fiber and whole grains include Grape Nuts, Cracklin' Oat Bran, Wheaties, Shredded Wheat, Raisin Bran and Special K.

Cereal brands that still contain some natural and fortified nutrients, but also contain between 12 and 18 grams of added sugars in one serving include Honey Smacks, Frosted Flakes, Cap'n Crunch, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms and Fruity Pebbles.

When picking a cereal, Zeratsky suggests aiming for one with added sugars "in the single digits – the lower the better," and to find brands that contain key nutrients. "Choose cereals made with whole grains as these can be good sources of fiber and complex carbohydrates," she says, "together, fiber and complex carbohydrates can lead to a feeling of sustained energy."

Is cereal good for you? Watch out for the added sugars in these brands. (2024)


Is cereal good for your health? ›

Regularly eating wholegrain cereals that are rich in soluble fibre, such as oats (which contain beta-glucans) and psyllium, has been found to significantly reduce the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the bloodstream and may be protective against the development of heart disease.

Is there added sugar in cereal? ›

Breakfast cereals — "adult" ones included — can be full of added sugar, refined forms of sugar added to make foods taste better. They're different from the natural sugars found in fruit or dairy, which are accompanied by other important nutrients, such as fiber, protein or fat.

Why is cereal so good? ›

Cereal provides complex carbohydrates including dietary fibre and proteins. They are typically low in fat, nutrient dense and in most cases fortified with many essential vitamins and minerals. They are not only convenient but also provide the much needed nourishment.

Which cereals are no longer healthy? ›

Some Popular Breakfast Cereals May No Longer Be Considered “Healthy” by the FDA
  • Raisin Bran — 9 grams of added sugars.
  • Special K — 10 grams of added sugars.
  • Honey Bunches of Oats — 9 grams of added sugars.
  • Kellog's Corn Flakes — 4 grams of added sugars, 300 milligrams of sodium.
  • Honey Nut Cheerios — 12 grams of added sugars.
Dec 15, 2022

Is it OK if I eat cereal everyday? ›

It's completely fine to enjoy cereal every day, as long as you're choosing nutritious options and meeting your nutritional needs by pairing it with other foods, like fruit, nuts and seeds and unsweetened milk.

Are cheerios good for you? ›

They're not only low in fat and calories but also affordable and packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Yet, Cheerios are a processed food, and some flavors are loaded with sugar. As such, you should minimize your intake or choose low sugar varieties like plain or multigrain.

Is special K cereal healthy? ›

Kellogg's Special K Protein is one of the cereals that patients ask about when looking for healthy options. Although this cereal is higher in protein than the average cereal, which is good to help maintain body mass, it is still fairly high in carbohydrates.

Why is cereal good for kids? ›

Some cereals contain healthy ingredients, such as whole grains. The calcium, vitamin D, niacin, and protein in the milk that's poured on top are beneficial as well.

What is the healthiest cereal and why? ›

Bran flakes, mixed grain or malted wheat cereals are wholegrain cereals, which means they are high in fibre. Wholegrains are good for your digestion and your heart.

Is milk and cereal healthy? ›

A bowl of breakfast cereal and milk (which boosts calcium intake) makes an important nutritional contribution: a bowl of Kellogg's breakfast cereal with milk provides at least 25% of recommended intake of 6 B-group vitamins (thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, folic acid), Vitamin D (in ...

Why is cereal not popular anymore? ›

On-the-go lifestyles have fueled demand for portable breakfast options like bars and shakes, at the expense of an old morning favorite: cereal. Americans have been out of love with cereal for a while.

Is Special K or Cheerios better for you? ›

Cheerios are made from whole-grain oats and they're a decent source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, and Special K is low in calories and fat. But the healthy status doesn't always apply to the 15 other types of Cheerios and the 11 other varieties of Special K in the cereal aisle.

Is it okay to eat cereal every breakfast? ›

While it is possible to eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it is not recommended to do so on a regular basis. Cereals are often high in carbohydrates and sugar and may not provide sufficient nutrients for a well-balanced diet.

How much cereal a day is healthy? ›

We have found that a 30-gram portion matches well the energy needs of children. Our easy rule of thumb when having cereals is 25 to 30 grams for children and 30 to 45 grams for adults. Measuring the weight of your breakfast cereal is the most accurate method of getting your portions right.

Is it good to eat cereal every night? ›

You may want to avoid eating cereal before sleeping. Even if you're not, the quick changes in blood sugar don't contribute to the relaxed state your body requires for sleep. If resisting cereal at night proves to be challenging, make sure that you select one that is low in sugar and high in whole grains.

What is the healthiest breakfast? ›

The healthiest breakfast foods include a protein, healthy fat and source of carbohydrates, according to Smolen. For a healthy breakfast, consider eating foods like oatmeal with nut butter, avocado toast with an egg, chia seed pudding or a greek yogurt parfait with nuts and berries.


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