How to Pick Healthy Cereal for the Most Important Meal of the Day

Do you still eat cereal for breakfast, or have you given it up in search of a healthier choice?

The old, familiar breakfast staple cereal gets a bad rap, as a poor choice for being too low in protein, too high in sugars and too processed to be healthy.

Although that’s true of many breakfast cereals, Consumer Reports officials say plenty of cereals are nutritious –– and they have some tips on how to pick a good one.

It’s best if you can include four main food groups: a protein, a complex carbohydrate, a dairy and a fruit. Cereal is a quick and easy way to get all those things if you throw in a sliced banana or other fruit. According to the health and nutrition team at Consumer Reports, choosing the right cereal is key. 

It's best to use 100 percent whole grain cereals –– but at the very least, find one with a whole grain as the first ingredient. Whole grains have been linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. And another benefit is that they’re going to fill you up, so you’re not going to get that mid-morning hunger attack. 


Next, suss out the sugars. If you really want a sweetened cereal, choose one with no more than eight grams of sugar per serving.

You also need to pay attention to protein. It may help keep blood sugar steady and helps with weight control. Cereal usually has a few grams of protein, but if you add cow’s milk or yogurt, you’re going to get a decent amount of protein.

Finally, watch your portions. People often pour more than they realize. So grab your favorite bowl and measure out a serving –– so you recognize what a proper portion really is.

A few good picks? Post-Shredded Wheat, Alpen Muesli No Sugar Added –– and if you want something a little sweeter, try Cheerios Multi-Grain. All three performed well for taste and nutrition, in a recent Consumer Reports Analysis.

Do you still eat cereal to start the morning, or do you choose to eat something else instead? Join the discussion on Facebook.

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