Knowing the healthiest breakfast cereals will help you make easy choices for breakfast that can be made in just minutes and don’t require any cooking. Walking down the cereal aisles can be pretty intimidating – tons of boxes and different flavors all jumping out to you screaming “Pick Me! I’m the Best!”
To make matters worse, because nutrition is such a concern not only for parents choosing healthy breakfast cereals for their kids, but many people looking for ways to reduce their cholesterol or lose weight, there are many different labels on the box that can not be just confusing but misleading as well. Many boxes of claim to be whole grain but when you look at the ingredients list you’ll see that they also are loaded with sugar or refined grains in addition to the whole grains.
So how do you make the decision to pick the healthiest breakfast cereals? We’ve created a list of 7 nutritious foods to help guide you when making decisions, and based our selections on the following criteria:
Whole Grains: Consuming whole grains have shown to keep your blood sugar levels even as well as shown to help lose weight. You also get more fiber and vitamins from whole grains.
Sugar Density: Sugar comes from a variety of places, such as dried fruit or honey and many cereal manufacturers add sugar to their products to improve the flavor. If the top few ingredients in the cereal include sugar (or some form of it such as corn syrup) and it has more than 15 grams of sugar, it is likely it is not the best choice. Try to stick with organic sweeter cereals, since they likely use unrefined cane sugar or juice.
Protein: Many people overlook protein when choosing a cereal. High protein cereals however will help you get some protein to keep your breakfast balanced, even if you don’t have time for a hard boiled egg. Nuts and whole grains help add to the protein content.
Now that we’ve looked at what makes certain cereals a good choice, here are our top 7 Healthiest Breakfast Cereals:
Instant Oatmeal, Plain: Getting the plain instant oatmeal will help you control how much sugar or sweetener goes into it, since the flavored types usually have more than you really need for good taste. You can add pure maple syrup (please don’t use the substitutes which are nothing but corn syrup!) or even dried apples and cinnamon. There are tons of variations and things you can add to the oatmeal – so don’t be afraid to try something new! Peaches and nuts are one of my favorites. It’s okay to also add a little salt.
Shredded Wheat: Shredded Wheat cereal is made with whole grains, is an excellent source of fiber, and does not have any sugar. You can add fresh or dried fruit to give it some more sweetness. Even the frosted kinds are not incredibly high in sugar, but if you can enjoy the plain varieties it is a much healthier option. There are many organic brands available, such as Arrowhead Mills Organic Shredded Wheat which averages to be about $3.70 a box if you order in bulk online, and it’s vegan, too. (Most others contain gelatin).
Bran Cereal: Bran flakes don’t sound too exciting, but you can add raisins or other dried fruits to naturally make them sweeter without adding too many grams of sugar. Another trick you can use to sweeten them is add a little bit of maple syrup to them. We love just about everything made by Nature’s Path, so if you are looking for a high fiber cereal that does not taste like cardboard, Nature’s Path Organic Smart Bran is a good one to check out. (Just read the reviews – no complaints yet!)
Nature’s Path Flaxseed Cereals: Flaxseed is a great source for Omega 3 fatty acids, which are a good type of fat for your health. Nature’s Path brand makes a number of cereals, with my personal favorites being their Maple Crunch and Pumpkin granola – especially on some coconut yogurt. You can find them in most stores (my local Wal-mart even sells them) – though they too are cheapest when ordered in bulk online. Click Here to See Nature’s Path Flax Cereals
Kashi Go Lean: Kashi cereals tend to be higher in sugar and pretty sweet, but the protein and fiber in them makes up for it enough to be a contender on our list. Unlike a lot of the non-organic cereals you see in the grocery stores, it doesn’t have a ton added ingredients, so it’s a good compromise. But, it is kind of on the expensive side, and not nearly as tasty as some of the other things on this list!
Bob’s Red Mill Mighty Tasty Cereal: This is a hot cereal that will slowly grow on you as being one of your favorites – though at first you may not be too impressed. It’s gluten free, and has some great whole grains that you may not have tried before. I like it with peaches and nuts, but I will also confess my favorite way is to add a few chocolate chips to it – it’s like having a chocolate chip cookie for breakfast, but a lot healthier! You’re supposed to cook it on the stovetop, but I make it in the microwave all the time.
Ezekial 4:9 Organic Golden Flax: If you’re not accustomed to wheat germ or flax, this one may taste a little different to a lot of people. However it is the healthiest, most organic breakfast cereals out there. This one wins the award for most nutritious breakfast cereal ever. It’s very expensive in markets (if you can even find it), thankfully it’s available in bulk if you Order Online. It’s another one of my favorites.
It should be noted that while we did spend several hours researching and reading different nutrition labels that this is not a scientific study or conclusve of all cereals out there. Most of the nutrition data came from either the company’s website or nutritiondata.com where they list labels. I can tell you that I have personally eaten all of these cereals myself and give them my approval for taste
Don’t forget you don’t necessarily have to eat cereal with cow’s milk – they’re also often great on top of yogurt, and I love them with coconut milk, though almond milk is another good substitute as well.
Do you have a favorite one that you feel should be included on our list of top 7 healthies breakfast cereals? Have you tried any of these and want to leave your comments/reviews? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.