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8 of The Healthiest Choices In Your Cereal Aisle

Cereal often gets a bad rap for being high in sugar, low in protein and lacking in overall nutritional value. However, the abundance of options in your local grocery store cereal aisle means that there are in fact some healthy options hiding amongst the colorful cartoon characters and ‘magically delicious’ marshmallows.

Fitday Editor

Cereal is commonly known as the breakfast of champions — but only if you make the right choice that is. What used to be reserved as a breakfast stand-in for kids has become a fast, easy and inexpensive meal and snack option for many. Yet despite its popularity, cereal often gets a bad rap for being high in sugar, low in protein and lacking in overall nutritional value. However, the abundance of options in your local grocery store cereal aisle means that there are in fact some healthy options hiding amongst the colorful cartoon characters and ‘magically delicious’ marshmallows.

Cheerios

Made from whole grain oats, these O’s prove that not all cereals from your childhood are bad. With 3 grams of fiber per serving and limited added sugars, Cheerios are a great option in the morning. Just note that they do not pack a lot of protein, so adding in some nut butter or plain yogurt could help make your breakfast better-rounded.

General Mills Total Whole Grain

Total Whole Grain contains 100% whole grain wheat flakes, as well as 100% of the Daily Value of 12 vitamins and minerals. In a single ¾ cup serving, you can achieve your daily needs for calcium, iron, vitamin C and B12, along with many more. Total is one of the only leading cereals that boasts that kind of nutrition in one box.

General Mills Fiber One

If a high fiber breakfast is what you crave, Fiber One should be the cereal you reach for. With a whopping 14g of fiber in one half-cup portion, this cereal will give you more than half of your daily fiber needs in just one serving and 60 calories.

Wheat Chex

Unlike other Chex varieties, Wheat Chex are made from 100% whole-grain wheat. One serving contains only 130 calories but boasts 7 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. While it is on the higher end for sugars, the overall nutrient profile of this cereal is still noteworthy.

Post Shredded Wheat

Unlike its frosted counterpart, this cereal classic has just one item on its ingredient list: whole-grain wheat. And, with zero added sugar and reasonable fiber and protein, with a little fruit, a sprinkle of cinnamon or honey, you have yourself a flavorful and filling morning meal.

Kellogg’s Special K Protein Plus

Packing 10 grams of protein in a ¾ cup, this low calorie, low sugar cereal provides individuals with higher protein needs an excellent breakfast option. With 5 grams of fiber, this high protein cereal also serves as a great snack option, keeping you full and satisfied throughout the day.

Kashi Honey Puffs

Packed with almost half of your daily recommended servings of whole grains, these puffs are made with whole wheat, rice, oats, barley, rye, and buckwheat. Despite its 7g of added sugars, Kashi’s puffs contain 3 grams of fiber and 23 grams of whole grains, providing a sweet and nutrient-dense option.

General Mills Kix

The “Kid Tested Mother Approved” Kix cereal is also dietitian approved. With one of the larger serving sizes for cereals, Kix boasts a deliciously sweet taste with only 3 grams of sugar in 1 ¼ cup. It also is made with whole grain corn and provides 3 grams of fiber in each bowl.

Overall, if you’re questioning your favorite brand, turn to the Nutrition Facts Label – those numbers don't lie. When looking for the biggest bang for your nutritional buck, look for three main ingredients: sugar, fiber, and whole grains.

First, fewer than 10 grams of sugar per serving is best when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth, without turning your breakfast into dessert. Second, look for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. This will keep you feeling full into lunch and will help with digestive health. Lastly, scan the ingredients list. The first ingredient should be a whole grain.

Often times a suggested serving size of cereal can be a lot smaller than what we might pour straight from the box. Start with a single serving to determine what it looks like and whether more is warranted. If a single serving isn’t cutting it, try bulking up your cereal with fresh fruit, chopped nuts or a low-fat yogurt to get the well-rounded meal that you need to start your day off right.

Sarah Dreifke is a freelance writer based in DeKalb, IL with a passion for nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease. She holds a Bachelor of Science in both Dietetics and Life Sciences Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she is working towards a combined Master's Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics as well as a dietetic internship at Northern Illinois University.

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