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Heart Healthy: The 20 Cereals That Are Actually Healthy (and How to Pick 'Em)
Source: Greatist

The 20 Cereals That Are Actually Healthy (and How to Pick 'Em)

03/12/2014 - 1:00pm by Kissairis Munoz

Healthiest Cereal Brands

Cereal: What used to be just a kid’s meal is now America’s favorite breakfast. And it makes sense. Cold cereal makes for a fast, easy, and inexpensive meal or a quick and easy snack.

Still, cereal sometimes gets a bad rap for being packed with sugar, low in protein, and generally lacking nutritional value (Hint: If it has marshmallows in it, it probably isn’t good for you—sorry, Leprechauns). But the abundance of choices in the supermarket aisle means there are some healthy options hiding behind Toucan Sam. While these cereals might not have a prize in the box, they’ll fuel you up to start your day off right.


Each cereal chosen is nutritionist-approved and contains a whole grain as the first ingredient, less than 10 grams of sugar per serving, and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Oh yeah, and they’re delicious. Check out our favorite picks (ranked in alphabetical order) to get your day started right:

Healthiest Cereal Brands

1. Barbara’s Original Puffins
This cereal has a lot going for it, and we’re not just talking about the adorable puffin on the box. Crunchy, dairy- and wheat-free, only lightly sweetened, and relatively high in fiber, this is a solid morning option.

Healthiest Cereal Brands

2. Barbara’s Cinnamon Puffins
With a little more sweetness than the original Puffins, these corn pillows are a good option for those with a sweet tooth who are still trying to watch their sugar intake. They’ve got 6 grams each of fiber and sugar, so they taste great while keeping you full.


Healthiest Cereal Brands

3. Barbara’s Snackimals Vanilla
Blast Cereal

While they’re probably meant for someone a lot younger, we won’t tell if you eat these tasty little animals straight out of the box. These adorable critters make for a sweet, crunchy, low-cal breakfast or snack.


Healthiest Cereal Brands

4. Bob’s Red Mill Crunchy
Coconut Granola

Thanks to its combination of rich, wholesome flavors—such as molasses, coconut, sesame seeds, and vanilla—this is the perfect cereal to snack on sans milk. It’s also packed with healthy fats courtesy of the coconut.


Healthiest Cereal Brands

5. Cascadian Farms Hearty Morning
Granola, bran, and whole grains pack this cereal with 8 grams of fiber, which should keep you full straight through to lunch. Top with your favorite fruits or nuts to add extra flavor.

Healthiest Cereal Brands

6. Cascadian Farms Multi-
Grain Squares

Whole wheat, rice, and corn—oh my! These little squares are high in fiber and relatively high in protein, making them a smart choice for a morning meal.


Healthiest Cereal Brands

7. Cascadian Farms Purely O’s
Extremely similar to another brand (cough, Cheerios), this version boasts mainly organic ingredients for a slightly different spin on an old-time favorite.

Healthiest Cereal Brands

8. Erewhon Raisin Bran
Loaded with just five ingredients and a whole lot of taste, this organic take on an old classic relies on raisins to add just the right amount of sweetness. With 6 grams of fiber and five grams of protein, this bran should keep you full until lunch.

Healthiest Cereal Brands

9. General Mills Cheerios
This American classic is a kitchen staple for a reason. It lists whole grain oats as the first ingredient and boasts 3 grams of fiber per serving. With just 1 gram of sugar per serving, it’s the perfect cereal to top with your favorite fruit. (Just note that Cheerios are pretty low in protein, so it might be worth adding in a tablespoon of nut butter or some plain yogurt.).

Healthiest Cereal Brands

10. General Mills Kix
Kid-tested, nutritionist-approved, this childhood fave is low in calories and sugar but has a surprising amount of fiber for a cereal made from whole-grain corn.

Healthiest Cereal Brands

11. General Mills Total
This decade-old variety is a workhorse with 100-percent whole grain flaky goodness—and it’s packed with vitamins, to boot. Bonus: Crush this cereal and use it in place of breadcrumbs as a healthier breading in your favorite recipes.

Healthiest Cereal Brands

12. General Mills Wheaties
Breakfast of champions? You bet. With just 4 grams of sugar and 3 grams of fiber, eating these whole grain wheat flakes will certainly make you feel like a champ—even if your face doesn’t grace a Wheaties box.

Healthiest Cereal Brands

13. Kashi Cinnamon Harvest Whole Wheat Biscuits
Though it’s made with only four ingredients, this cereal packs a punch. The crunchy biscuits are made from whole-grain wheat and are loaded with 5 grams of fiber per serving. Bonus: With 6 grams of protein per serving, a bowl of this in the morning can reduce hunger long after breakfast is over.

Healthiest Cereal Brands

14. Kashi GoLean Vanilla
Graham Clusters

Not only does this vanilla-sweet cereal have a whopping 9 (!) grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar per serving, its 11 grams of protein up the ante big time (The average cereal has just
three grams

Healthiest Cereal Brands

15. Kashi Heart to Heart Honey Toasted Oat Cereal
They’ve done it again at Kashi. This good-for-you cereal is loaded with 5  grams of fiber, just 5 grams of sugar, and whole oat flour, making it a great bet for your morning. 

Healthiest Cereal Brands

16. Lydia’s Organics Berry
Good Cereal

A healthy gluten-free option, this cereal is a fruit lover’s dream come true, thanks to a whole lot of berries. It also provides a huge protein punch, with 11 grams per serving, and healthy fats in the form of sunflower seeds.

Healthiest Cereal Brands

17. Peace Cereal Goji Berry
These flavorful clusters are mixed with goji berries, which are packed with antioxidants, and topped with protein-rich chia seeds (a superfood in our book!) to keep you satisfied.

Healthiest Cereal Brands

18. Peace Cereal Wild Berry
These whole-grain oat clusters are loaded with antioxidant-rich blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. They’re perfect for eating with milk or as a topping for yogurt.

Healthiest Cereal Brands

19. Post Foods Grape-Nuts
The story goes that Sir Edmund Hillary, the first climber to reach Mount Everest’s summit, munched on Grape-Nuts during the trek to fuel himself to the top. Even if you’re not climbing mountains, one serving provides you with 100 percent of your daily whole grain needs, 7 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein to help you conquer that project or midterm exam.

Healthiest Cereal Brands

20. Quaker Honey Nut Oatmeal Squares
With a slightly sweet honey flavor and a crunchiness that won’t quit (even after adding milk), this cereal is relatively high in protein and serves as a good base for your favorite fruit and nuts. It also goes well thrown into a healthy trail mix.




How to Pick a Better Cereal: Your Action Plan

Ready to tackle the cereal aisle? Three key factors go into selecting a cereal that will offer the best nutritional bang for your buck, says Tina Gowin, RD, CDN: sugar, fiber, and whole grains. And don’t forget about ever-important portion sizes. When choosing a healthier cereal, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Limit sugar. Less than 10 grams of sugar per serving is ideal for satisfying your sweet tooth without turning breakfast into dessert. This is particularly important if you want to avoid a sugar crash later — and the headache, irritability, and anxiety that can come with it (as if you needed something else to worry about!).
  • Embrace fiber. To feel fuller longer, look for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. A diet high in fiber will help digestion, making sure your body er, relieves itself, on a regular basis. It can also reduce cholesterol levels, keep those tricky blood sugar levels steady, and even improve physical performance ((Association between dietary fiber intake and physical performance in older adults: a nationwide study in Taiwan. Wu, IC, Chang, HY, Hsu, CC, et al. Public Library of Science, 2013 Nov 11;8(11):e80209.))
  • Don’t skip over the ingredients list. The first ingredient should be a type of whole grain — whether it’s whole wheat, whole oats, or whole barley, whole grains can help promote heart health ((Major cereal grain fibers and psyllium in relation to cardiovascular health. Bernstein, AM, Titgemeier, B., Kirkpatrick, K., et al. Nutrients, 2013 Apr 29;5(5):1471-87)). Also look for ingredients you can recognize and pronounce, rather than processed ones.
  • Power up with protein. If you want to bulk up on protein during breakfast, which can help curb overeating later, look for brands with more than 5 grams of protein per serving. Does your favorite cereal fall short? Pair it with an egg or yogurt to round out your morning meal.
  • Keep portions in mind. It’s easy to forget that cereals have a suggested serving size — and it can be a lot smaller than what we’re pouring straight from the box. Gowin suggests measuring out the serving as a start to see what it actually looks like and whether more is really necessary. Bulking up cereal with chopped nuts or a piece of fruit, like a sliced banana or a handful of berries, are easy ways to make your bowl more filling if that one serving just isn’t cutting it.

And there you have it: Your guide to navigating the breakfast aisle with ease. Happy munching!

The 20 Healthiest Cereals

Thanks to nutritionists Jessica Garay Redmond, Tina Gowin, and Lindsey Joe for their contributions to this piece.

Whether it’s during breakfast or as a snack, what’s your favorite healthy cereal to chow down on? Share in the comments below, or get in touch with us on Facebook!


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