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How Do I Choose the Best Breakfast Cereal?

By Amber Eberle
Updated Feb 12, 2024
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Breakfast cereal is one of the most popular foods consumed in the morning. Most people eat cold cereal with milk, but hot cereal is also a filling and nutritious choice. The best cereals are healthy while also having a good taste. To chose the best breakfast cereal, the ingredients should be checked. A cereal made from whole grains that is high in fiber and low in sugar is generally a good choice. Partially-hydrogenated fats and added sugars are ingredients in cereal that should be avoided.

A breakfast cereal that is healthy is usually made from whole grains. When looking at cereals, the package label should be inspected and these ingredients should be listed first. A cereal brand may advertise that it is made from whole grains, but it may actually be a combination of whole and less desirable refined grains. Refined grains include wheat flour, rice, and corn meal.

Too much sugar can make an otherwise healthy breakfast cereal an unhealthy choice. Cereals with added sugar should be avoided. Very sweet cereals that are not made from whole grains provide very little nutritional value. If sweet cereal is a personal preference, a bowl of cereal can be sweetened with the addition of fresh fruit or a small amount of brown sugar. Some people also enjoy using a vanilla-flavored non-dairy milk, such as almond or soy milk, on their cereal, which adds a sweet taste.

Partially-hydrogenated fats, also known as trans fats, have been found to be very unhealthy. Most cereals no longer include trans fats in the ingredients, but there are several popular varieties that do. It is recommended that a cereal with partially-hydrogenated fats be avoided in favor of a healthier option.

A good choice for a breakfast cereal is typically one that contains a good amount of fiber. It is recommended that a cereal with at least seven grams of fiber be consumed for breakfast. Fiber can help a person feel full longer and may also aid in digestion.

Hot cereal, like oatmeal, is also a good breakfast option, though not as popular as cold varieties. These cereals are usually made of whole grains and contain little to no added sugar. Hot cereal is often considered the breakfast of choice for a person that is trying to lose weight, lower his cholesterol, or control blood sugar. Some people consider the taste of hot cereal to be bland, but it can be flavored with cinnamon, fruit, or small amounts of brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup.

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Discussion Comments

By Oceana — On May 27, 2012

Oatmeal is the best healthy breakfast cereal, in my opinion. You don’t have to worry about strange ingredients, because you can just use the whole oats and water to make it.

I do add a bit of sugar to my oatmeal, but I also add blueberries. They are so full of antioxidants that they greatly increase the health benefits of eating oatmeal, since I never eat it without them.

I use quick oats, because I only have to boil them in water for one minute. This fits right into my busy morning schedule. I always have time for this healthy breakfast cereal.

By Perdido — On May 26, 2012

I get most of my fiber from breakfast cereal. I had been having a lot of problems with constipation, so I knew I needed to start eating more fiber. I began by switching to a healthy cereal.

I only buy the kind that boasts that it is made from whole grains. If it is sweetened at all, I make sure that it only contains a small amount of sugar. It’s nice to have a little bit of sweetness, as long as it isn’t overwhelming.

Also, I use 2% reduced fat milk on the cereal to avoid any unnecessary fat grams. So, I’m getting fiber and calcium without the harmful sugar and fat.

By OeKc05 — On May 26, 2012

@wavy58 - As far as breakfast cereal nutrition goes, cream of wheat should be high on the list. In addition to having wheat in the name, you have use calcium-rich milk to make it, so you get that added bonus.

Also, I’ve heard that it contains some form of vitamin B and lots of iron. This is good for people who are borderline anemic, like me.

It’s really low in fat, so you can eat a big serving and not worry about putting on weight. My kids love it, too. I pour a little vanilla flavoring in with the brown sugar, and that makes all the difference.

By wavy58 — On May 25, 2012

Can anyone tell me if cream of wheat is considered a healthy breakfast? It seems like it is related to oatmeal, because it is a kind of hot cereal.

It doesn’t have actual chunks of grain floating around in it, but I believe it is made of ground wheat. This seems like it would be a good thing to eat and to feed my children, right?

I hope it is good for them, because on cold mornings, that is all they want to eat. I can’t get them to eat whole grain cereals, because they don’t like the taste. I add brown sugar to cream of wheat to make it slightly sweet, but I don’t go overboard with it.

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