How to Pick a Breakfast Cereal 

How to Pick a Breakfast Cereal

Diana Mirkin
The most healthful cereals are made with whole grains and not much 
else. If you're trying to lose weight, control cholesterol or 
diabetes, or just need a lot of energy, your best bet is a hot 
cooked cereal of whole grains, such as oatmeal; or barley, brown 
rice or wheat berries cooked and served like oatmeal. Flavor it with 
raisins or other dried fruits, cinnamon, and perhaps a handful of 
nuts such as pinenuts. 

If you prefer cold cereal, you need to check the list of ingredients 
carefully. The FIRST ingredient should be a whole grain. Then scan 
through the entire list and if you see the words "partially 
hydrogenated," put the box back on the shelf. We recommend that you 
avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils (or "trans fats"), and 
they still show up in a few cereals (see the list below.)

Once you've eliminated all the brands made with refined grains or 
partially hydrogenated oils, check for ADDED sugars (you want little 
or none) and fiber (you want a lot.) 

Raisins or other dried fruits will add a lot of grams of sugar to 
the listing on the nutrition panel; they are not distinguished from 
added sugars, so you can only estimate the amounts. Check the list 
of ingredients instead.

The fiber content listed on the nutrition label can be confusing 
because it's based on serving size, and very light cereals (such as 
puffed wheat) show little fiber per serving, but an acceptable 
amount when you adjust for weight. Cereals made from bran (the outer 
covering removed from whole grains) will have higher fiber content 
than cereals made from whole grains (which have the germ and starchy 
parts of the grains as well as the fiber), but they can be hard to 

Update on Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Trans Fats):I'm delighted to 
report that partially hydrogenated oils have been taken out of most 
cereals. My original list included 56 brands with PHO's; my most 
recent check found only seven! The disappearance of PHO's from 
cereal shelves shows that consumer pressue CAN make a difference. 
Still, read through the list of ingredients to make sure. 

Is it really whole grain? Manufacturers have also responded to the 
call for more whole grains in our diet, so you will find a lot more 
choices that meet my recommendation of "whole grains as the first 
ingredient". However, many that claim to be "whole grain" still 
include refined grains. You may need to do some detective work to 
see what you're getting. One-ingredient whole grain cereals (i.e., 
shredded wheat, puffed wheat, oatmeal) are sure bets. If you see 
milled corn, corn meal, wheat flour or rice in the list of 
ingredients, you're getting a mixture of whole and refined grains.

Note: The list below includes only major national brand cereals. 
Many minor brands and store brands meet the guidelines listed above; 
read the labels and add your own favorites to the "recommended" 

Recommended: Cereals made with all or mostly Whole Grains
(No trans fats, little or no added sugars; but check the list of 
 ingredients -- recipes can change.)

Cheerios - General Mills 
Chex, Wheat or Multi Grain - General Mills 
Cinnamon Toast Crunch - General Mills 
Cinnamon Grahams - General Mills 
French Toast Crunch - General Mills 
Golden Grahams - General Mills 
Grape Nuts - Post 
Grape Nut Flakes - Post 
Great Grains, all varieties - Post 
Healthy Choice Mueslix - Kelloggs 
Healthy Choice Almond Crunch with Raisins - Kelloggs 
Healthy Choice Low Fat Granola - Kelloggs 
Healthy Choice Toasted Brown Sugar Squares - Kelloggs 
Kashi (all varieties) - Kashi Company 
Life - Quaker 
Mini-Wheats, all varieties - Kelloggs 
Muesli - Familia 
Nutri-Grain, all varieties - Kelloggs 
Oatmeal Crisp, all varieties - General Mills 
Oatmeal Squares - Quaker 
Organic Healthy Fiber Multigrain Flakes - Health Valley 
Puffed Wheat - Quaker and others 
Shredded Wheat, all varieties and sizes - Post and others 
Smart Start - Kelloggs 
South Beach Diet Toasted Wheats 
Total - General Mills 
Uncle Sam - U.S. Mills 
Wheaties - General Mills 
Barbara's, Cascadian Farm, Mother's, Nature's Promise and other 
  smaller brands that specialize in "healthful" cereals (but 
  always check the list of ingredients). 

Recommended: All Bran or High Bran Cereals
(no trans fats, little or no added sugars. )

100% Bran - Post 
All Bran, all varieties - Kelloggs 
Bran Flakes - Post 
Chex, Multi-Bran - General Mills 
Complete Wheat Bran Flakes - Kelloggs 
Complete Oat Bran Flakes - Kelloggs 
Cracklin' Oat Bran - Kelloggs 
Crunchy Corn Bran - Quaker 
Fiber 7 Flakes - Health Valley 
Fiber One - General Mills 
Fruit & Bran - Post 
Granola, Low Fat - Kelloggs 
Oat Bran - Quaker 
Oat Bran Flakes - Health Valley 
Oat Bran Flakes with Raisins - Health Valley 
Organic Bran with Raisins - Health Valley 
Raisin Bran - Kelloggs 
Raisin Bran Flakes - Health Valley 
Raisin Bran, Whole Grain Wheat - Post 
Raisin Nut Bran - General Mills 
Shredded Wheat 'n' Bran - Post 
Total, Raisin Bran - General Mills 
Weight Watchers Flakes 'n' Fiber 
100% Natural Granola - Quaker 

Not Recommended - Cereals that STILL Contain Partially Hydrogenated 
 Oils (Trans Fats) at last check. These cereals also are primarily 
 refined grains and are high in added sugars. 

Basic Four - General Mills 
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pops - Kelloggs 
Cocoa Krispies - Kelloggs 
Corn Pops - Kelloggs 
Froot Loops - Kelloggs 
Mini-Swirlz - Kelloggs 
Mini-Wheats Strawberry - Kelloggs 
Smacks - Kelloggs 

Not Recommended - Cereals Made from Refined Grains
Many of these also contain a lot of added sugar

Apple Jacks - Kelloggs 
Cap'n Crunch, all varieties - Quaker 
Chex, Rice or Corn - General Mills 
Cocoa Frosted Flakes - Kelloggs 
Cocoa Blasts - Quaker 
Cocoa Pebbles - Post 
Cocoa Puffs - General Mills 
Cookie Crisp/Chocolate Chip - General Mills 
Corn Pops - Kelloggs 
Corn Flakes - Kelloggs and others 
Count Chocula - General Mills 
Crispix - Kelloggs 
Frosted Flakes - Kelloggs 
Fruity Pebbles - Post 
Honey Bunches of Oats - Post 
Honey Comb - Post 
Honey Nut Clusters - General Mills 
Kix - General Mills 
Lucky Charms - General Mills 
Product 19 - Kelloggs 
Puffed Rice - Quaker 
Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs - General Mills 
Rice Krispies, all varieties - Kelloggs 
Special K - Kelloggs 
Total Corn Flakes - General Mills 

Checked 9/10/10