Cereal is an extremely popular breakfast food. It is easy and convenient for those who live busy lifestyles, but is often loaded with added sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. Additionally, cereal can be easy to overeat since many brands lack fiber and protein, which are essential for promoting fullness (1, 2).
The good news is that there are several nutritious alternatives available, both do-it-yourself (DIY) varieties and brands you can purchase at the store.
This article will cover the 15 healthiest cereals you can eat.
Oats are a nutritious cereal choice. They are commonly rolled or crushed and then consumed as oatmeal, or porridge.
Since oats are whole grains, they are rich in fiber and important nutrients. A 1/2-cup (117-gram) serving of oats provides 4 grams of fiber and 68% of your daily needs for manganese, 18% for phosphorus and selenium and 16% for zinc (3). They also provide a significant amount of B vitamins, iron and magnesium (3).
You can purchase pre-portioned and flavored oats at the store, but it is best to avoid these and make your own. Store-bought oats are often high in added sugars and other unhealthy ingredients.
Oatmeal is incredibly versatile and can be prepared in many different ways. It is often boiled with water or milk and then topped with fresh fruit, cinnamon or nuts. You can also make “overnight” oats, which are soaked in milk or yogurt for several hours so that they are ready to eat in the morning for breakfast.
2. DIY MUESLI
Muesli is both a healthy and delicious type of cereal. It is typically made with a combination of rolled oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
While similar to granola, muesli differs in that it is consumed raw, or without being baked. In addition, it does not generally contain any added oils or sweeteners. The combination of whole grains, nuts and seeds makes muesli an excellent source of protein, providing about 8 grams per one-cup (85-gram) serving. It also contains lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals (4).
You can lower the carb content of muesli significantly by making a grain-free version, which can be made from coconut flakes, nuts and raisins.
3. HOMEMADE GRANOLA
Homemade granola can also be a very healthy cereal option. It is typically made by baking a combination of rolled oats, nuts and dried fruit in the oven until it becomes crispy.
Most types of granola contain a fair amount of protein and healthy fats. Additionally, it provides several vitamins and minerals, including phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and B vitamins (5). Despite its nutrient content, store-bought granola tends to be loaded with added sugar, which is why it’s best to make your own.
Keep in mind that granola is quite high in calories. A one-cup (122-gram) serving provides close to 600 calories. For this reason, it is best eaten in moderation. To keep your intake under control, stick with a serving size of about 1/4 cup (85 grams) (5).
4. DIY CINNAMON CRUNCH CEREAL
There are several types of tasty “cinnamon crunch” cereals on the market.
But many of them are high in added sugar, which you can avoid by making your own healthy version using flaxseeds, hemp seeds, cinnamon, apple juice and coconut oil. One serving of this cereal provides about 5 grams of filling protein and is much lower in carbs than many store-bought cereals.
For example, a serving of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal contains 25 grams of carbs, whereas a serving of the homemade recipe contains only 3 grams (6, 7).
5. KASHI 7 WHOLE GRAIN NUGGETS
Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nuggets is low in sugar and high in nutrients.
It is made of 7 different types of whole grains, including oats, wheat, rye, barley, buckwheat and triticale. All of these contribute to its high fiber content, providing 7 grams per 1/2-cup (170-gram) serving (8). A 1/2-cup (170-gram) serving also provides 7 grams of filling protein in addition to a fair amount of magnesium, zinc, potassium and B vitamins (8).
7 Whole Grain Nuggets are much lower in sugar compared to other Kashi cereals. For example, one serving provides only 2 grams of sugar compared to Kashi GoLean Crunch, which contains 13 grams per serving (8, 9).
6. POST FOODS GRAPE NUTS
Grape Nuts are one of the healthiest cereals you can find.
They do not contain any added sugar and are made with only four simple ingredients: whole-grain wheat flour, malted barley flour, salt and dried yeast. Additionally, they provide 7 grams of fiber per 1/2-cup (170-gram) serving as well as a variety of nutrients, including iron, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and copper (10).
You can also make your own Grape Nuts, using almond and coconut flour instead of wheat flour.
7. BOB’S RED MILL PALEO-STYLE MUESLI
Bob’s Red Mill Paleo-Style Muesli is not only healthy but it is also gluten-free.
In fact, unlike traditional muesli, it is totally grain-free, made instead with coconut, dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
A 1/4-cup (24-gram) serving provides 16% of your daily fiber needs and 3 grams of filling protein. It also contains a few important minerals, including iron and calcium (11).
8. EZEKIEL 4:9 SPROUTED GRAIN CEREALS
Ezekiel 4:9 carries sprouted whole-grain cereals, which are quite healthy for you.
Sprouted whole grains have been allowed to sprout, or germinate, which makes them easier to digest and higher in nutrients than grains that haven’t sprouted (12, 13, 14).
These sprouted cereals are quite high in fiber and protein and do not contain any added sugar. A 1/2-cup (57-gram) serving contains 23% of your daily fiber needs and 8 grams of protein (15).
Moreover, Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain cereals provide a fair amount of potassium, which is important for heart health (15, 16).
9. NATURE’S PATH ORGANICS SUPERFOOD CEREALS
Nature’s Path Organics Superfood Cereals are full of wholesome ingredients. These include chia seeds, buckwheat and hemp seeds, all of which are high in protein and fiber (17, 18, 19).
Additionally, chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce inflammation and promote brain health (17, 20, 21, 22, 23).
Furthermore, the original and apple cinnamon flavors do not contain any added sugar and provide 6% of your daily needs for potassium (24).
10. BARBARA’S SHREDDED WHEAT CEREAL
Barbara’s Shredded Wheat stands out from other types of cereal in that it has only a single ingredient: 100% whole wheat.
The wheat is shredded in the form of biscuits that you can crush up and serve with milk. It also contains zero grams of sugar, which is rare among cereal brands. Barbara’s Shredded Wheat provides 20% of your daily fiber needs and 5% for potassium in only two biscuits (25).
11. ARROWHEAD MILLS SPELT FLAKES
Arrowhead Mills Spelt Flakes are another good cereal option. They are made with only a few simple and organic ingredients and do not contain any added refined sugars. They also provide 4 grams of protein per serving in addition to some fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus, B vitamins and iron (26).
12. CAULIFLOWER “OATMEAL”
One way to keep cereal healthy is to make it out of cauliflower.
Cauliflower “oatmeal” is made by combining riced cauliflower with eggs, then adding your own mix-ins. This is an excellent way to reduce your carb intake while still enjoying the delicious taste and textures of regular oatmeal.
A one-cup (81-gram) serving of regular oatmeal contains over 11 times the amount of carbs found in a cup of cauliflower (27, 28).
Additionally, cauliflower is rich in many important nutrients as well as fiber and antioxidants (28).
13. DIY PEANUT BUTTER PUFFS CEREAL
Homemade peanut butter puffs are a healthy alternative to store-bought varieties.
They are prepared by making “dough” out of almond flour, peanut butter, cocoa powder, coconut oil and a few other ingredients, rolling it into small balls and then baking them in the oven.
Substituting these for store-bought peanut butter puffs is a great way to lower your sugar intake. Additionally, the use of almond flour rather than wheat flour is an effective way to lower the carb content of your cereal.
For example, an ounce of almond flour contains 6 grams of carbs, while an ounce of wheat flour contains 20 grams (29, 30).
Furthermore, peanut butter is a good source of protein, healthy fats and several vitamins and minerals (31).
It is important to watch your portion sizes with this cereal though because almond flour is quite high in calories with 160 calories per ounce. 1/4 to 1/2 cup is a reasonable serving size (30).
14. LOVE GROWN ORIGINAL POWER O’S
Love Grown Original Power O’s are simple yet packed with nutrition.
They contain only a few ingredients, including brown rice and garbanzo beans along with no added sugar. Additionally, they provide a decent amount of fiber with 4 grams per 1-cup (35-gram) serving (32).
What’s more, there’s 12% of your daily protein needs in only 1 cup (35 grams) along with some vitamin C, iron and calcium (32).
15. DIY FLAX CHIA CEREAL
You can also make your own healthy cereal out of flax and chia seeds.
All you have to do is make “dough” out of flax meal, chia seeds and coconut oil as well as cinnamon and a sweetener, such as stevia, if desired.
The “dough” is then cut into squares and baked.
Flax and chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, as well as protein to keep you full and satisfied. Additionally, they provide a significant amount of nutrients, including magnesium, phosphorus and manganese (17, 33).
THE BOTTOM LINE
Many people enjoy eating cereal for breakfast.
However, cereals are often made with refined grains and excess amounts of sugar, which are unhealthy and should be avoided.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of healthy cereal options on the market that are nutritious and contain lots of fiber and protein without the added sugar.
The key is to double-check the ingredient list before buying cereal to ensure it is a healthy option.
You can also make your own cereal, which is a great way to increase the nutrition content and avoid unhealthy ingredients.