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Getting Serious About Cereal

Our picks for the healthiest breakfasts-in-a-box

The Ideal Cereal continued...

And what exactly does your breakfast cereal need to provide to meet those goals?

Well, let's factor in the notion that most of us enjoy our cereal with milk. That adds about:

  • 5 grams of protein with 2.5 grams of fat for 1/2 cup of 2% milk.
  • Or, 3 grams of protein with 1.75 grams fat for 1/2 cup of soy milk (this also adds 0.5 gram of fiber).

Adding a half cup of fresh fruit to your cereal will give you about 1.5 more grams of fiber, depending on the fruit.

Obviously, a cereal with 5 grams of fiber or more is ideal. But many of the family favorites are in the 3-grams category (if you choose one of these, serve it topped with fruit to boost the fiber and nutrients).

With all this in mind, I try to find breakfast cereals that have:

  • At least 3 grams of fiber per serving
  • At least 3 grams of protein per serving
  • No more than 25%-30% calories from sugar (this can go up to 35%-40% calories from sugar if the cereal contains dried fruit, which counts toward the total sugar grams)

Sizing Up Your Cereal

Here are the cereals I found in my supermarket that met these guidelines. They're listed in order from highest fiber content to lowest. Within each fiber category, they're listed from lowest in sugar to highest.

Cereal
Fiber (gm)
% Calories
from sugar
Protein (gm)
Fat (gm)
Calories
Cold Cereals
Fiber One Honey Clusters, 1 1/4 cup
14
12%
3
1
170
Kashi Good Friends, 1 cup
12
21%
5
2
170
Kashi Go Lean, 1 cup
10
17%
13
1
140
Shredded Wheat 'n Bran Spoon Size, 1 1/4 cups
8
<2%
7
1.5
200
Kashi Good Friends Cinna-raisin Crunch, 1 cup
8
30.5%
4
1.5
170
Kashi Go Lean Crunch, 1 cup
8
27%
9
3
190
Post Raisin Bran, 1 cup
8
40%
4
1
190
Kellogg's Raisin Bran, 1 cup
7
40%
5
1.5
190
Shredded Wheat, 2 biscuits
6
0%
5
1
160
Frosted Mini-Wheats, 24 biscuits
6
24%
6
1
200
Weight Watchers Vanilla Puffed Wheat, 1 cup
5
0%
3
2
100
New Special K, 3/4 cup
5
8%
10
3
100
Wheat Chex, 1 cup
5
11%
5
1
180
Post Selects Banana Nut Crunch, 1 cup
5
18%
5
6
240
Quaker Oatmeal Squares, 1 cup
5
19%
6
2.5
210
Post Bran Flakes, 3/4 cup
5
20%
3
0.5
100
Complete Wheat Bran Flakes, 3/4 cup
5
22%
3
0.5
90
Frosted Mini-Wheats Maple &amp; Brown Sugar, 24 biscuits
5
27%
4
1
190
Smart Start Healthy Heart, 1 1/4 cup
5
30%
6
2
230
Honey Nut Shredded Wheat, 1 cup
4
24%
5
1.5
200
Smart Start Soy Protein, 1 cup
4
28%
10
1.5
200
Oatmeal Crisp Almond, 1 cup
4
29%
5
4.5
220
Cheerios, 1 cup
3
4%
3
2
110
Wheaties, 1 cup
3
15%
3
1
110
MultiGrain Cheerios, 1 cup
3
22%
3
1
110
Basic 4, 1 cup
3
28%
4
3
200
Oatmeal Crisp Raisin, 1 cup
3
34%
5
2
210
Quaker 100% Natural Low-Fat Granola with Raisins, 2/3 cup
3
34%
4
3
210
Hot Cereals:
Quaker Low Sugar Maple &amp; Brown Sugar, 1 pack
3
13%
4
2
120
Quaker Low Sugar Apples &amp; Cinnamon, 1 pack
3
22%
3
1.5
110
Regular (plain) oatmeal, 3/4 cup
3
0%
4.5
1.7
109

SOURCE: Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2002 102:993-1000.

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