- Did you get fooled by these TV ads for “healthy” food?
- The Best Breakfast Cereals for Weight Loss
- 7 of the Best Cereals for Weight Loss
- 2 Important Rules for Eating Cold Cereal if You Want to Lose Weight
- 7 honorable mentions
- 3 guidelines for picking a cold cereal that won’t wreck your weight loss efforts
- What if my favorite cold cereal doesn’t fit the guidelines?
- 20 Worst ‘Healthy’ Cereals
- Kellogg’s Smart Start Original Antioxidants
- Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran
- Life Cinnamon Multigrain Cereal
- Quaker Real Medleys Cherry Almond Pecan Multigrain Cereal
- Post Honey Bunches of Oats Whole Grain Honey Crunch
- Kashi Heart To Heart Oat Flakes & Blueberry Clusters
- Good Morenings Waffle Crunch
- Cinnamon Chex
- Special K Protein
- Post Selects Blueberry Morning
- Special K Nourish Coconut Cranberry Almond
- Quaker Oatmeal Squares Golden Maple
- Special K Fruit & Yogurt
- Quaker Corn Bran Crunch
- Chex Clusters Fruit & Oats
- Nature’s Path Chocolate Koala Crisp
- Kellogg’s Origins Fruit & Nut Blend
- Raisin Bran
- Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, Omega-3
Did you get fooled by these TV ads for “healthy” food?
“To feel this special, you need to eat this special,” says the television commercial for Kellogg’s Special K Red Berries. “Made with whole grains and fiber to help a body thrive.”
This Special K cereal is made with more white rice than whole-grain wheat, and every one-cup serving is sweetened with about two teaspoons of added sugar. Other Special K cereals—Chocolatey Delight and Cinnamon Pecan, for example—also have more white rice than whole grains.
In fact, Original Special K has no whole grain.
Eating a bowl of mostly white rice and sugar makes you feel special? Not us.
“Mmm,” says the family again and again in the Yoplait commercial. “Milk, fruit, cultures…Mmm, Yoplait.”
Yoplait forgot to mention the sugar. Yoplait Original yogurts now have “25% less sugar,” say the labels. But the Original Strawberry that’s featured in the TV ad has more added sugar than strawberries.
Yoplait also neglected to mention the modified corn starch, gelatin, natural flavor, pectin, and carmine (a red coloring derived from bugs). Yummy.
“Sometimes I just don’t eat the way I should, so I drink Boost to get the nutrition that I’m missing,” says the middle-aged landscaper working outside in the television commercial for Boost Original Complete Nutritional Drink. “I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. Stay strong, stay active with Boost.”
So, let’s see if we got this right.
A perfectly healthy person who is presumably too active to eat three square meals a day needs a 240-calorie bottle of (mostly) water, corn syrup, sugar, milk-and-soy protein concentrate, and a bunch of vitamins and minerals to stay active?
If you’re healthy enough to eat, you don’t need Boost. Real food, not fortified sugar-and-protein water, is the key to staying that way.
“Rise and shine on. And on and on and on,” says the ad for Jimmy Dean Delights Turkey Sausage, Egg White & Cheese English Muffin Made with Whole Grain. “Packed with protein and made with real ingredients,” it boasts.
True enough, the list of ingredients in this muffin does go on and on. And it’s really something.
The English muffin is mostly real white flour—it’s got only 5 grams of whole grain, admits the ad’s tiny white print. That’s maybe a fifth of the muffin. Plus, it’s got somereal high-fructose corn syrup that’s been manufactured in a factory from corn starch with acid and enzymes.
Then there’s the real egg whites (mixed with real modified tapioca starch and realcarrageenan gum to really thicken it) and real processed American cheese.
And don’t forget the real mechanically separated turkey. That’s a turkey paste produced by forcing turkey meat under high pressure through screens and filters to remove the bones and bone chips.
Jimmy Dean seasons this real turkey with real salt, sugars, phosphates, and caramel color.
We can go on and on, too. Really.
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The Best Breakfast Cereals for Weight Loss
When faced with a hectic morning, the easiest path to breakfast often includes a cereal box. Open. Pour. Add milk. Eat. But, when it comes to nutrition, the choices in the cereal aisle don’t stack up evenly. Varieties with chocolate chips and marshmallows likely stand out as the unhealthier of choices, but seemingly healthy options, such as some granolas and sweetened whole-grain varieties, can be packed with added sugars and unhealthy fats, too — not to mention they can be seriously lacking in good-for-you nutrients.
“Never judge a cereal by the front of the box; the manufacturers aren’t there to help you be healthy,” says Gretchen Spetz, RD, a clinical dietitian with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Ohio. To get the real scoop, you need to scan the ingredients and nutrition facts label for sneaky sugar sources and hidden processed ingredients. What you do want to see are ingredients like whole grains, oats, whole wheat, and brown rice, which tend to be higher in fiber than more processed carbohydrates.
The good news is that the right cereal pick made with the right ingredients can serve up a healthy, nutrient-rich breakfast in a flash — and yes, help you meet your weight loss or weight maintenance goals.
A review published in September 2014 in the journal Advances in Nutrition that analyzed dozens of previous studies that looked at the health benefits of eating cereal for breakfast found there is trustworthy evidence that cereals with a base of oats, barley, or psyllium may help lower cholesterol levels, and that wheat-based cereals that are high in fiber may help improve bowel function, too.
To make the right decision when it comes to your breakfast bowl, Spetz recommends looking for cereals with at least 3 grams (g) of fiber (5 g or more is considered “high-fiber”), less than 10 g of sugar, and less than 200 milligrams (mg) of salt per serving.
Here are some choices that meet these parameters and are good breakfast (or snack) options, whether you want to lose weight or just start your day with a nutritious meal:
- General Mills Cheerios
- Kellogg’s All-Bran
- General Mills Fiber One Original
- Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nuggets
- Kellogg’s Bite Size Unfrosted Mini-Wheats
- Kashi GoLean
- Post Shredded Wheat ‘n Bran
- Nature’s Path Organic SmartBran
Here’s more about all the nutrition benefits these picks provide, and what Spetz and other experts have to say about these cereal picks:
Just so you know, Everyday Health may earn commissions from the shopping links included in this article.
By now we are pretty clued up on the fact that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But if you are looking to lose weight, could a cereal diet be the answer?
In an ideal world, we would love to start each day with toast topped with avocado and an oozing poached egg or a warm bowl of porridge sprinkled with berries and fruit. They are both satisfying, healthy options.
Sadly, most of us don’t have the time or the money to make this happen and we are left with cereal. The cereal diet involves eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast and then for lunch or dinner. The one ‘normal’ meal of the day has to be pretty good too. It will ideally be full of protein and vegetables and low on carbohydrates, sugar and salt.
Although not one of the most glamorous meal options, a bowl of cereal can be a practical and cheap. Despite often being considered as a ‘health food’, not all cereals are great for staying slim. One of the perks of the cereal diet is that you don’t necessarily have to fuss about calorie counting but portion size is still important. And realistically, most of the weight loss results are down to the restricted calorie consumption.
If you are looking to embark on the cereal diet we’ve rounded up a list of common cereals that come in at under 250 calories per serving. This is based on you eating the cereal with a 200 ml serving of semi-skimmed milk. You will be surprised with how many cereals come in at under 250 calories!
If you can whip up a well-balanced breakfast every morning complete with protein, whole grains, and all the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, you’re a unique breed of human and, quite frankly, deserve a medal.
If you’re like most guys—juggling a maniacal work and family schedule—you probably only have time to grab a quick bowl of cereal before you run out the door. But that doesn’t mean your health and fitness need to take a hit.
There are plenty of healthy cereal options that don’t taste like soggy cardboard.
We’ve seen a shift in the way processed foods are made now that people are more aware of their food choices and demand more nutritious fare.
That said, the cereal aisle is still daunting. Even if you know to avoid anything neon bright, magically delicious, or championed by a cartoon character, most brands have misleading labels.
So, what do you need to look for in a nutritious box of cereal? Follow these cereal-buying guidelines:
- Whole grains should be listed as one of the first ingredients on the label.
- Look for cereals with low or no added sugar and up to 10g of total sugar.
- Aim for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving (5g is optimal).
- Opt for adequate protein—a minimum of 5g per serving.
Check out our top 10 healthiest cereals and pour yourself a better breakfast.
Jordan Mazur, M.S., R.D., is the coordinator of nutrition and team sports dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers.
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Dietary fibre can help to ensure a healthier digestive system and reduce the risk of bowel cancer. Eating a diet high in fibre and wholegrain cereals (such as multi-grain bread) can also lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and can help you maintain a healthy body weight.
Wholegrain and wholemeal foods are high in dietary fibre. Other foods high in fibre include fruit and vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes such as peas, beans and lentils.
What are wholegrain cereals?
Wholegrain cereals include wheat, rice, corn, oats, rye, barley and millet. Wholegrain cereals contain the three layers of the grain. Wholemeal foods are made from wholegrains which have been crushed to a finer texture. Nutritionally, wholegrain and wholemeal foods are very similar.
Examples of wholegrain cereals are:
- Wholemeal or multi-grain bread, muffins and crumpets
- Wholegrain or whole-wheat breakfast cereals or muesli
- Wholemeal or mixed grain crisp bread
- Brown rice, rice cakes
- Wholemeal pasta
- Corn, oats, quinoa, unpearled barley, millett or amaranth
- Cracked wheat (bulgur)
Wholegrain cereals contain more fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than refined cereal foods such as white bread, because many of the important nutrients occur in the outer layer of the grain which is lost during processing.
How much do I need to eat?
Dietary fibre is an important part of a nutritious, well balanced diet. It is recommended that Australian women eat 25g of dietary fibre per day and men 30g per day.
In order to reach this, Cancer Council recommends:
- Eat at least four serves of wholegrain or wholemeal foods every day. This means ensuring about half their daily serves of breads and cereals are wholegrain or wholemeal varieties.
- At least two serves of fruit per day and five serves of vegetables per day including legumes.
It is recommended that whole foods be consumed over a dietary fibre supplement, as the benefits of fibre may be from the combination of nutrients working together.
What is a serve?
One serve of wholemeal or wholegrain foods equals:
- 1 slice of wholegrain bread
- 1/2 a medium wholemeal bread roll
- 1/2 a cup of cooked brown rice, pasta or noodles
- 1/2 a cup of cooked porridge
- 2/3 cups of wholegrain breakfast cereal
- 1/4 cup of untoasted muesli
Easy ways to eat more wholegrains
- Enjoy wholegrain, wholemeal or mixed grain toast instead of white.
- Eat wholemeal English muffins or crumpets instead of white.
- Choose whole-wheat breakfast cereal or porridge with low fat milk.
- Try creamed corn on mixed grain or wholemeal toast.
- Make sandwiches on wholemeal or mixed grain breads, e.g. pita bread or rolls.
- Try wholegrain or wholemeal crisp breads with toppings such as creamed corn or salsa dip.
- Whip up a brown rice salad, wholemeal pasta salad or tabouli (made with cracked wheat).
- Try brown rice or quinoa with casseroles or curries.
- Use wholemeal or mixed grain dinner rolls.
- Serve wholemeal pasta and sauce, or wholemeal lasagne.
- Include sweet corn – it counts as both a vegetable and cereal food.
- Use wholemeal flour to thicken sauces, gravies and stews.
- Add barley to stews or soups or use it instead of rice in risotto.
- Try oat topping for fruit dessert crumbles.
- Snack on some low fat popcorn.
- Munch on low fat muesli cereal bars.
- Choose wholemeal crispbread, crackers or biscuits.
- Try untoasted muesli sprinkled over low fat yoghurt.
See the Fibre, Wholegrain Cereals and Cancer Position Statement for more information.
7 of the Best Cereals for Weight Loss
Sweet, crackling comfort.
There is something so wonderfully soothing about hearing the crisp shapes of your favorite breakfast cereal tumble out of the box into your bowl. Splash on some cold milk and let the crunching begin…even while driving to work.
But now you want to lose weight. Can you still enjoy cold cereals? To give them up completely feels…painful. Like losing a faithful friend.
Good news: Cold cereals can be in your weight loss plan if you follow the advice in this post.
2 Important Rules for Eating Cold Cereal if You Want to Lose Weight
You can shoot yourself in the foot and undo all the good you’ve done by choosing a weight-loss friendly cereal IF you fail to do these 2 things:
- Stick to one or two servings. Look at the serving size. Which is found right beneath the words, “Nutrition Facts.” So that means you can’t fill your bowl with abandon just because the cereal is one of the best.
- Use 1% or skim milk or an alternative milk. There is a lot of fat in 2% and whole milk, which can definitely hinder your weight loss efforts. Alternative milks, like almond or soy, are fine because they generally have much less fat.
Now I’m going to share 7 of the best cold cereals to enjoy if you want to lose weight, followed by some of the best runner ups, as well as some advice if your favorite cold cereal doesn’t make the cut.
1. Shredded Wheat (Post)
The box says: “9 out of 10 Doctors Recommend Post Shredded Wheat” and so do we. The first ingredient is whole wheat, and there are 6-9 grams of fiber and 0 grams of sugar in a serving.
Good news. You can mix it up when you’re eating these whole wheat shreds because they come in 3 healthy varieties: Original Big Biscuit, Original Spoon Size and Wheat ‘n Bran Spoon Size.
2. Bran Flakes (Post)
The first ingredient is whole grain wheat, and there are 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of sugar in a serving. (Whew! They just made the cutoffs.)
3. Grape-Nuts Original (Post)
The first ingredient is whole grain wheat flour, and there are 7 grams of fiber and 5 grams of sugar in a serving.
4. Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Crunchy Cereal (Food for Life)
The first ingredient is sprouted wheat, and there are 6 grams of fiber and 0 grams of sugar in a serving.
You can mix it up with this cereal as well because there are 3 varieties that meet the guidelines: Golden Flax, Original and Almond.
5. Uncle Sam Original (Attune Foods)
The first ingredient is whole wheat kernels, and there are 10 grams of fiber and <1 gram of sugar in a serving.
6. Flax Plus Multibran Flakes (Nature’s Path Foods)
The first ingredient is whole wheat flour, and there are 5 grams of fiber and 4 grams of sugar in a serving.
7. Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nuggets Cereal (Kashi Company)
The first ingredient is whole wheat flour, and there are 7 grams of fiber and 3 grams of sugar in a serving.
7 honorable mentions
Think of the honorable mentions as a good first step to eating a healthier whole grain breakfast cereal with some sweetness.
But keep in mind they’re not the best for weight loss because, even though they’re still mostly or completely whole grain, they have less fiber (3 or more grams per serving) and/or a little more sugar (10 or less grams per serving).
1. Cheerios (General Mills)
The first ingredient is whole grain oats, and there are 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of sugar in a serving.
Multi Grain Cheerios also made the honorable mention list: first ingredient is whole grain corn, with 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of sugar in a serving.
⚠ Important Note: All the other varieties of Cheerios didn’t make the cut because they had less than 3 grams of fiber or more than 10 grams of sugar in a serving.
2. Total Whole Grain (General Mills)
The first ingredient is whole grain wheat, and there are 3 grams of fiber and 3 gram of sugar in a serving.
3. Wheaties (General Mills)
The first ingredient is whole grain wheat, and there is 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of sugar in a serving.
4. Grape-Nuts Flakes (Post)
The first ingredient is whole grain wheat, and there are 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of sugar in a serving.
5. Great Grains (Post)
The first ingredient is whole grain wheat, and there are from 5-7 grams of fiber and 8-10 grams of sugar in a serving.
And you can mix it up with these whole grains because the following varieties make the cut: honey oats & seeds, crunchy pecans, digestive blends vanilla.
6. Kashi GOLEAN Original Cereal (Kashi Company)
The first ingredient is not a whole grain but a bean in the form of soy grits! Even better when it comes to fiber. And there is 10 grams of fiber and 9 grams of sugar in a serving.
You can mix it up big time with Kashi cereals. The following 11 meet honorable mention guidelines:
- Cinnamon Harvest Whole Wheat Biscuits,
- Berry Fruitful Whole Wheat Biscuits,
- Heart to Heart Honey Toasted Oat Cereal,
- Heart to Heart Warm Cinnamon Oat Cereal,
- GOLEAN Crisp Cinnamon Crumble Cereal,
- GOLEAN Vanilla Graham Clusters,
- Berry Blossoms Squares,
- Autumn Wheat Whole Wheat Biscuits,
- 7 Whole Grain Flakes Cereal,
- Island Vanilla Whole Wheat Biscuits, and
- Honey Sunshine Squares.
The first ingredient for 9 of them is whole grain, soy grits for the other 2, and they have 4-9 grams of fiber and 5-9 grams of sugar in a serving.
7. Cinnamon Crunch (Cascadian Farm)
The first ingredient is whole grain wheat, and there are 3 grams of fiber and 8 grams of sugar in a serving.
3 guidelines for picking a cold cereal that won’t wreck your weight loss efforts
The cold cereal should:
1. Be mostly or completely whole grain.
How can you tell if the cereal is mostly whole grain? Flip the box over and find the ingredient list, which is usually right below the big box that says, “Nutrition Facts.”
The first ingredient in that list should be a whole grain. The word “whole” needs be in front of the name of the grain. Examples: whole wheat (not just wheat), whole grain corn (not just corn or degermed corn), whole grain corn meal (not just corn meal or degerminated corn meal), whole rye or whole rye flour (not just rye or rye flour).
Every rule has exceptions, so the following are whole grains even though the word “whole” is not involved: oats, quick or instant oats, oatmeal, steel-cut oats, Irish oats, brown rice (white rice is NOT whole grain), quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, wheat bulgur, millet and popcorn.
2. Have 5 or more grams of fiber per serving.
If the cereal is 100% whole grain, even better. Look for this stamp on the front of the box.
How do I find the grams of fiber per serving? Go back to the box entitled, “Nutrition Facts.” Find “Dietary Fiber” with the number of grams in a serving. That number should be 5 or more.
If you see “Soluble Fiber” and “Insoluble Fiber” beneath “Dietary Fiber,” don’t worry about those numbers. You just want the “Dietary Fiber” to be 5 or more.
3. Have 5 or less grams of sugar per serving.
The evidence is growing: eating more sugar is associated with weight gain, while eating less sugar is associated with weight loss. So changing your cold cereal is one great way to cut your sugar intake. Just remember: cold cereal is not dessert so it doesn’t have to be sweet.
How do I know how many grams of sugar are in a serving? Go back to the “Nutrition Facts” box and look for the grams of “Sugar” in a serving. That number should be 5 or less.
At this point you’re probably thinking, “I’m not sure this is going to work for me because I can’t imagine eating my cold cereal without the taste of sweetness.”
I can appreciate that. So here’s what you do to get sweetness without weight gain. Put one or two of your favorite fresh fruits on top of your cold cereal. Maybe a cup of blueberries or a sliced banana…or both. With every bite of cereal you’ll get the sweetness of the fruit. And fruit is not associated with weight gain. Sweet.
What if my favorite cold cereal doesn’t fit the guidelines?
What if it’s really just sugar miserably trying to masquerade as breakfast cereal?
I feel your pain.
So use your favorite cereal once a week as a bit of sweet crunch on top of your oatmeal or a bowl of fresh sliced strawberries for dessert. You get the idea. It’s no longer front and center and not very much. If you like specifics, stick to ¼ cup.
20 Worst ‘Healthy’ Cereals
If you’re an avid Eat This, Not That! reader, you probably know by now that some classic morning meals—frozen waffles and pop tarts, we’re looking at you—are on a mission to crush your weight loss goals. And that’s because many of these breakfast foods are high in sugar and low in good-for-you nutrients like healthy fats, fiber, and protein that can help to propel us into the day feeling satisfied and energized. But not all diet offenders are easy to point out. Take, for example, healthy cereals.
Marketers began to catch on to the fact that people wanted breakfast foods that were low in sugar and high in nutrients. While you’d think that would mean companies would make whole grain cereals that were low in sugar, that’s not exactly what happened. Instead, brands just plastered health-focused words like “antioxidants” or “whole grain” onto their cereal boxes in an attempt to catch the eye of the unassuming dieter. The result? Healthy cereals became one in a long list of foods with health halos.
Because it’s so difficult to tell which boxes of grains are actually good for you—and which ones are nothing more than a marketing gimmick to take advantage of your quest for a better diet—we sought out to find some of the most misleading cereals on grocery store shelves. Watch out for these secret diet disasters, and don’t forget that being mindful of your morning meal doesn’t just stop in the cereal aisle. Vanquish those dessert-like breakfast foods so you can stay on top of your body goals by choosing the best breakfast foods for weight loss.
Eat This! Tip:
When you’re roaming the cereal aisle, make sure your box has at least 3 grams of fiber and fewer than 10 grams of sugar. Limiting yourself to 10 grams of sweet stuff per serving will be enough to satisfy your sweet tooth without overwhelming your blood glucose levels to the point you’ll suffer a sugar crash before lunch. High fiber foods will slow your body’s digestion of the sugars to prevent any energy-draining spikes in blood sugar. And don’t forget to always skim the ingredient list. A whole-grain should be listed as the first ingredient—not sugar—and ensure there are no artificial flavors, preservatives, colors, or partially hydrogenated oils.
Kellogg’s Smart Start Original Antioxidants
Per 1 cup: 190 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (3 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 4 g protein
What’s so smart about a high-sugar, low-fiber cereal? This box from Kellogg’s hijacks the claim, “antioxidants”—which are plant-based compounds that mop up inflammatory, cancer-causing free radicals—making the cereal sound healthier than it is. In reality, their box contains an inexcusable 14 grams of sugar per serving, as well as artificial flavors, colors, and potentially carcinogen-containing BHT. According to Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN, “BHT is still highly controversial and limited research exists on whether it is harmful to the body or carcinogenic,” but she added, “it is still recommended to avoid consuming large quantities.”
Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran
Per 1 cup: 267 calories, 9 g fat (4 g saturated), 180 mg sodium, 45 g carbs (8 g fiber, 19 g sugars), 5 g protein
It’s not just the nearly 20 grams of sugar that make this cereal less than wholesome. Cracklin’ Oat Bran also comes with a massive glut of palm and soybean oil that loads this box with inflammatory omega-6s and saturated fats.
Life Cinnamon Multigrain Cereal
Per 1 cup: 160 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (3 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 4 g protein
Because it touts its 18 grams of whole grains on the front of the box, alongside words like “multigrain” and “plant foods,” you might initially think Life cereal was a safe choice—until, that is, you read the ingredient list. There you’ll see that the cereal pieces aren’t even made of whole grains, but a medley of flours (most of which, are in lesser quantities to the sugar that’s added). On top of that, Quaker also adds oil-derived artificial colors, Yellow 5 and 6.
Quaker Real Medleys Cherry Almond Pecan Multigrain Cereal
Per 1 cup: 320 calories, 9 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 50 mg sodium, 55 g carbs (4 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 7 g protein
At least Quaker realizes the amount of sugar (more than five Chips Ahoy cookies) they put in this box, with their tagline “Feed your sweet tooth and your, well, wholesome tooth.” Despite having whole grain rolled oats, wheat, brown rice, and corn flakes, there are only 4 measly grams of fiber per bowl. Plus most of those 7 grams of protein come from whey protein concentrate rather than the almonds or pecans.
Post Honey Bunches of Oats Whole Grain Honey Crunch
Per 1 cup: 220 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 46 g carbs (4 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 4 g protein
When grabbing a box off the shelf, make a point of steering clear of the three C’s: crunch, crisps, and clusters. This trio is typically code for clumps of rice held together by sugar and fat, like in these Honey (aka corn syrup and caramel color) Bunches of Oats.
Kashi Heart To Heart Oat Flakes & Blueberry Clusters
Per 1 cup: 200 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 125 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (3 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 5 g protein
We’re big fans of many of Kashi’s cereals, but this Heart To Heart Oat Flakes & Blueberry Clusters is higher than their average when it comes to sugar content. Remember, “clusters” is code for oats held together with syrups and oils. Instead, pick up one of the best pantry staples: Kashi 7 Whole Grain Flakes.
Good Morenings Waffle Crunch
Per 1 cup: 120 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (1 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 2 g protein
How does a cereal called “Waffle Crisp” sound? Pretty unhealthy, right? What about “Good MOREnings?” Better? Not really. They’re essentially the same thing—same ingredient list, nearly identical nutrition information—just one is rebranded to make it appear healthier. It’s not. This cereal is one of the few remaining boxes that contain artery-clogging trans fat, partially hydrogenated soybean oil.
Per 1 cup: 160 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 33 g carbs, (1 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 1 g protein
Gluten-free does not always mean healthy! Why? Well, this cereal delivers 160 calories of pure carbohydrates, 11 of which are sugars.
Special K Protein
Per 1 cup: 160 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (4 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 13 g protein
Protein is all the rage right now and for good reason. The nutrient can fill you up, boost your metabolism, and help you burn fat. Unfortunately, the majority of the 13 grams of protein in this cereal comes from soy protein isolate, which is most likely extracted from genetically modified, pesticide-laden soybeans. Another reason to steer clear? Kellogg’s sweetens up the cereal with sucralose, an artificial sweetener that won’t shut off your hunger hormones like real sugar can.
Post Selects Blueberry Morning
Per 1 cup: 175 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (2 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 3 g protein
A summary of the ingredients list: rice, sugar, wheat, sugar, rolled oats, sugar, dried blueberries, sugar, oil, artificial colors, and flavors. This should be a hard pass.
Special K Nourish Coconut Cranberry Almond
Per 1 cup: 200 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (5 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 5 g protein
If it weren’t for the seven different types of sweeteners added to this cereal, sugar would be the first item found on the ingredient list. If you want to nourish your system, try doing so without ingesting highly processed foods like soy protein isolate, modified corn starch, acacia gum, and the potentially carcinogen-containing preservative, BHT.
Quaker Oatmeal Squares Golden Maple
Per 1 cup: 210 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 44 g carbs (5 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 6 g protein
Don’t let their high fiber and protein counts fool you. These oatmeal squares are full of bad-for-you ingredients yellow 5 and 6 as well as caramel color—a chemically-derived additive which commonly contains an artificial form of phosphorous that’s been shown to leach calcium from our bones. (Oh and P.S., the “Honey Nut” Oatmeal Squares flavor has no actual honey listed anywhere on the ingredient list.)
Special K Fruit & Yogurt
Per 1 cup: 160 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 185 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (4 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 3 g protein
If you’ve heard some of the benefits of yogurt, you’d likely pick up this cereal. Between being high in muscle-building protein and full of gut-healing probiotics, Greek yogurt is the rising star among breakfast foods. Just don’t let that cloud your judgment when it comes to grabbing this box. Kellogg’s uses nonfat yogurt powder that’s heat treated (and, thus, contains no probiotics), and throws in a medley of inflammatory sugars, artificial flavors, and artificial colors that will knock your gut health off track.
Quaker Corn Bran Crunch
Per 1 cup: 120 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 280 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (5 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 3 g protein
It’s not the nutritionals that did Quaker Corn Bran Crunch in. It was their addition of artificial colors—Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, and Blue 1. Red 40 and the two Yellows have both been banned from food products in the UK based on research that has connected the oil-derived colorants with allergies, migraines, headaches, behavioral problems, and hyperactivity among children.
Chex Clusters Fruit & Oats
Per 1 cup: 200 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 45 g carbs (1 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 2 g protein
General Mills splatters health-sounding claims like “Gluten-Free,” “No Colors from Artificial Sources,” “No Artificial Flavors,” “No High Fructose Corn Syrup” on their box, but they forgot to mention there are 17 grams of sugar in a cup serving. Oops!
Nature’s Path Chocolate Koala Crisp
Per 1 cup: 147 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 130 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (3 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 7 g protein
We were initially disappointed to see that Nature’s Path uses brown rice flour, rather than a whole grain, in this cereal. But what really cemented their spot on our worst healthy cereals list was the 15 grams of cane sugar and molasses they add per serving—too much for you or your little one.
Kellogg’s Origins Fruit & Nut Blend
Per 1 cup: 253 calories, 5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 187 mg sodium, 51 g carbs (4 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 4 g protein
Always be wary of any processed foods that contain cranberries. This berry was ranked last on our list of fruits ranked by sugar content because it’s so low in the sweet stuff. Unfortunately, that usually means that manufacturers add more sugar to make up for their bitter taste, as you can see with the 17 grams of sugar, glycerol, corn syrup, honey, and molasses.
18 & 19
Nature’s Path Organic Mesa Sunrise Flakes with Raisins
Per 1 cup: 210 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 47 g carbs (2 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 3 g protein
Post Raisin Bran
Per 1 cup: 190 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 230 mg sodium, 47 g carbs (8 g fiber, 19 g sugar), 5 g protein
It’s long held the reputation of being one of the few healthy cereals, but that’s mostly because of the “bran” part of the equation. Fruits are healthy, but dried fruits should be eaten in moderation because they don’t fill you up as much as water-filled fresh fruit and are higher in sugar. Each of these boxes contains 10 or more grams of sugar compared to fiber per serving, which is higher than what is expert-recommended. If you want healthy raisin bran, check out Cascadian Farm Organic Raisin Bran, which has 6 grams of fiber and only 13 grams of sugar per cup serving, or Erewhon Raisin Bran, which has 6 grams of fiber and 10 grams of sugar per cup serving.
Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, Omega-3
Per 1 cup: 180 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 44 g carbs (5 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 4 g protein
Kellogg’s version of raisin bran deserved its own spot. That’s because they attempt to deflect attention away from their 17 grams of sugar by selling their cereal as healthy with the claim “Omega-3” from the added flax seeds. While omega-3s are a healthy fat that’s been found to decrease inflammation and boost brainpower, you, unfortunately, won’t be able to reap much of their benefits in this way. In fact, flaxseeds are one of the foods you’re eating wrong because often times, people eat them whole—as you would in this cereal. Your body can’t break down the whole flaxseed, so you have to grind them up first to reap their heart-healthy omega-3s.
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