The 5 Healthiest Cereals You Can Eat (Plus, 5 You Should Avoid!)

Don't always believe the hype on cereal boxes. We set the nutrition facts straight and found the healthiest (and unhealthiest) cereals at the supermarket.

Multigrain wholewheat healthy cereals with fresh berry for breakfastElena Veselova / Shutterstock

In general, to choose a healthy cereal, you’ll to do a little investigating on the food label. (Learn the 8 ways your nutrition label could be misleading you.) Don’t always believe the hype on cereal boxes. Get those nutrition facts. What should you look for? First, check out the fiber content. Your goal should be at least 4 grams of fiber in a serving. Second, the less added sugar, the better. So, aim for less than 8 total grams to keep added sugar at a minimum. Third, go for whole grain ingredients. We’ve done a little investigating ourselves to find the most healthy cereals on the market.

The 5 Healthiest Cereals

Shredded Wheat

Those classic big biscuits have graced breakfast bowls for decades. With an impressive 6 grams of fiber and a super short list of ingredients (wheat and one preservative), shredded wheat is a super healthy cereal. Top it with fresh or frozen berries for an extra boost of antioxidants and fiber. Filling, simple and delicious. Find more healthy breakfasts here.

Oatmeal

It’s true that the soluble fiber in oatmeal assists in lowering cholesterol levels. Another beautiful fact about oatmeal is that it’s a blank canvas. Try a bowl of steel-cut oats with crunchy walnuts and dried cranberries or a savory version of quick oats with spices and avocado; the options really are endless. Try these Grandma-approved oatmeal recipes.

Barbara’s High Fiber Cereal

As a northern California company that started small over 40 years ago, Barbara’s is committed to simple and wholesome ingredients. The High Fiber Medley provides an incredible 14 grams of fiber per serving, with 5 grams of protein. A variety of whole grains–including oats, wheat and corn–combine into a crunchy and nutritious morning meal.

Cheerios

Skip the flavored varieties and stick to the classic O’s loved by all ages. Cheerios contain only 100 calories per serving and 3 grams of fiber. Bonus–this healthy cereal is a great source of several vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, vitamin B6 and folic acid. Super versatile, Cheerios can be used in snack mixes, granola bar recipes or snacks for your toddler straight out of the package.

Fiber One

One of the highest fiber cereals you can find, Fiber One offers 14 grams in just a ½-cup serving. It’s slightly sweetened with sucralose, so none of that yucky high fructose corn syrup. Fiber One recipes for muffins, bars, breads and snack mixes are abundant. As a breakfast cereal, it’ll keep you full for hours.

The 5 Cereals You May Want to Avoid

Sugary cereals laden with marshmallows and chocolate are obviously poor choices. But, these are sneakier–they sound great, but really aren’t so hot if you’re looking for the most nutritious bowl. Save these cereals for a once-in-a-while breakfasts. Surprised at what you’ll find? Here are 12 “healthy” foods that could be wrecking your diet.

Granola

Sure, there are healthy versions out there, but diligence in label reading is a must. Avoid the ultra-sweet clusters, which tend to be high in fat and sugar. Excessive amounts of nuts, dried fruits and seeds amp up the calorie level. A little of these gems are wonderful, but too much of a good thing is real. Don’t use up all of your calories in your first meal of the day. Try making your own (it’s easy)!

Cracklin’ Oat Bran

The name sounds like a super heart-healthy cereal, right? Look closely: One serving has 4 grams of saturated fat (as much as a teaspoon of butter) and 19 grams of sugar (that’s nearly 4 teaspoons)!

Sugary Raisin Bran

Unfortunately, several raisin bran manufacturers coat their raisins in sugar, bursting the limit for a breakfast cereal. If you like the high fiber, naturally-sweet flavor of raisins in your cereal, add natural raisins to your cereal yourself. You’ll save lots of calories from excess sugar and still reap the fiber benefits of the dried fruit.

Kellogg’s Smart Start

Despite its intelligent sounding name, it’s not a smart choice at all. With 14 grams of sugar in a serving, the antioxidants and protein it touts on the box just aren’t worth it.

So, remember, don’t believe the hype on the front of the box. Take time to read the nutrition label and ingredients to find the smartest cereal choices out there. And don’t forget to use low-fat or fat-free milk over your cereal and top it off with some fresh berries for even more nutrition.

Note: Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Jennifer Bowers, PhD, RD
Jennifer is a doctoral-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with nearly 25 years of experience. The majority of her career has focused in health care, disease prevention and nutrition education for all ages - from middle school to graduate school students. She owns a private practice focusing on freelance writing and extracurricular nutrition clubs for children. When she's not working, Dr. Bowers enjoys swimming, running, hiking, biking, camping, cooking, and reading.