Major Name Brand Grown-Up Cereals That Are Good for You

Bowl of cereal
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Breakfast cereal isn't just for kids and can be a tasty and healthy part of any grown-up's morning meal. Look for brands that are lower in sugar, sodium, and fat, but higher in fiber and protein. Calorie counts are important too. It's also a good idea to look at the ingredients list. Whole grains or oats should be at the top of the ingredients lists. 

There are a lot of brands and varieties of breakfast cereals on the grocery store shelves.

Many of them are marketed to kids, but there are plenty of brands that a grown-up could love. Take a closer look at the nutrition seven major brand-name cereals (Post, Kellog's, and General Mills) that are actually good for adults:

Post Shredded Wheat

Post Shredded Wheat Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (49 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 170 
Calories from Fat 9 
Total Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 0mg0%
Potassium 190mg5%
Carbohydrates 40g13%
Dietary Fiber 6g24%
Sugars 0g 
Protein 6g 
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 2% · Iron 6%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Shredded wheat is the simplest of all the cereals. It's nothing but wheat and a little bit of BHT as a preservative. It has no sodium and no sugar and one cup of Shredded Wheat has 6 grams fiber and 6 grams protein, which makes it the top choice here. Calorie-wise it was about in the middle of the pack, with 170 calories.

Serve Shredded Wheat with some fresh berries and either milk or almond milk. Since it doesn't have any added sugar, you could add a teaspoon of sugar and still be under 5 grams per serving.

General Mills Fiber One

Breakfast time is good for getting more fiber, and one cup of Fiber One cereal has 28 grams of fiber.

The original Fiber One has no sugar and 4 grams of protein. It's on the lower end of calories, too, with 120 per one cup. Its first two ingredients are whole grain wheat and corn bran. It's not the lowest in sodium, with 220 milligrams per cup. But it's not high in sodium either.

Most people need more fiber but be careful if you want to switch to this brand from a lower-fiber cereal. You ought to start with half a cup (that's the serving size on the box) and work your way up. That's because your digestive tract may need a little time to get used to the extra fiber.

General Mills Cheerios

One cup of Cheerios (the original) as only one gram of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and only 100 calories. The first ingredient is whole grain oats and cornstarch. It also has 140 milligrams sodium per one-cup serving, so it's excellent for a low-sodium diet.

Serve Cheerios with your favorite type of milk and some sliced fruit or berries. It's another cereal that leaves room for a spoonful of sugar if you like a sweeter flavor.

General Mills Total

Total's big thing is that it's loaded with vitamins and minerals. Of course, all these cereals are fortified with some amount of micronutrients, but Total contains 100 percent of most of them.

That's good, but it's important to continue to eat plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables the rest of the day.

Total is good because it has 4 grams fiber, about 3 grams protein, and 133 calories. That's pretty good sodium-wise, with 186 milligrams. It has a bit more sugar than other brands, and is listed as the second ingredient, after whole grain wheat, and has about 7 grams of sugar per cup of dry cereal. But it's fine as long as you don't add more sugar. Add berries and fruit for extra sweetness instead.

Post Honey Bunches of Oats

This one might be a surprise because it's one of the sweeter cereals, but hey, not everyone wants something that tastes like cardboard every morning.

But even though it's sweet, the first two ingredients are corn and whole grain wheat (you'd be surprised how many cereals have sugar listed second). 

It does have a little more sugar than the others, with 8 grams per one cup of dry cereal, so it's not a good idea to add any more sugar to a bowl. But it has almost 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein. One cup has about 160 calories and 187 milligrams sodium, which isn't bad.

General Mills Wheaties

Wheaties aren't really a sweet cereal, but they do have a little sugar added. Still, with 133 calories, 253 milligrams sodium, 5 grams sugar, 4 grams fiber and 3 grams protein, it's a solid choice for a healthy breakfast. The first two ingredients are whole grain wheat and sugar.

Wheaties is good when it's topped with fruit or berries, along with your favorite type of milk. Maybe some whole grain toast and nut butter on the side.

General Mills Corn Chex

Corn Chex is another rather plain cereal, but it's low in calories and sugar, so it makes the top seven. One cup has 120 calories, 220 milligrams sodium, 3 grams sugar, 2 grams fiber, and 2 grams protein. The first two ingredients are whole grain corn and cornmeal.

Since it's low in sugar, you could add a little bit of regular sugar. But since it's on the low side as far as fiber content, I think it should be served with a big helping of fresh fruit.

Cereals That Didn't Make the Top Seven

These brands aren't really bad for you but they didn't make the list of the healthiest adult breakfast cereals. 

General Mills Golden Grahams

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 160 calories
  • 320 milligrams sodium
  • 13 grams sugar
  • 3 grams fiber
  • 3 grams protein

First two ingredients: whole grain wheat, sugar

Note: Too much sugar and a lot of sodium for a breakfast cereal. Fiber and protein are good, though.

General Mills Basic 4

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 200 calories
  • 280 milligrams sodium
  • 13 grams sugar
  • 4 grams fiber
  • 4 grams protein

First two ingredients: whole grain wheat, cornmeal

Note: Another cereal with too much sugar. Too bad, because it's got enough protein and fiber to make me happy.

Kellogg's Raisin Bran

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 190 calories
  • 210 milligrams sodium
  • 18 grams sugar
  • 7 grams fiber
  • 5 grams protein

First two ingredients: whole grain wheat, raisins

Note: It's high in sugar, but much of that is probably coming from the raisins, which isn't all bad. It has plenty of fiber and a good amount of protein.

Kellogg's Special K

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 120 calories
  • 220 milligrams sodium
  • 4 grams sugar
  • 0 grams fiber
  • 6 grams protein

First two ingredients: rice, wheat gluten

Note: Plenty of protein and low in calories, but the lack of fiber is disappointing.

Kellogg's Product 19

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 110 calories
  • 220 milligrams sodium
  • 4 grams sugar
  • 1 gram fiber
  • 3 grams protein

First two ingredients: milled corn, sugar

Note: Not too bad. Low in calories and sugar, and has some protein, but is also low in fiber. 

Kellogg's Cracklin' Oat Bran

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 257 calories
  • 180 milligrams sodium
  • 19 grams sugar
  • 8 grams fiber
  • 5 grams protein

First two ingredients: whole grain oats, sugar

Note: On the positive side it's not high in sodium and has plenty of fiber and protein. One downside is that it has too much sugar and this is the one cereal that has a lot of fat, with about 9 grams.

Post Grape Nuts

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 420 calories
  • 540 milligrams sodium
  • 10 grams sugar
  • 14 grams fiber
  • 12 grams protein

First two ingredients: whole grain wheat flour, barley flour

Note: Lots of calories for a breakfast cereal and too much sodium. But it's high in fiber and protein.

Post Raisin Bran

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 190 calories
  • 230 milligrams sodium
  • 20 grams sugar
  • 8 grams fiber
  • 5 grams protein

First two ingredients: whole grain wheat, raisins

Note: Here's another case where the extra sugar might be coming from the raisins. It has plenty of fiber and protein.

Cereals That Aren't So Good

So what does a breakfast cereal that's not so good for you look like? These cereals are lacking in whole grains so there's little or no fiber. And some have a lot of sugar. Like these:

Kellogg's Rice Crispies

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 160 calories
  • 227 milligrams sodium
  • 12 grams sugar
  • 0 grams fiber
  • 1 gram protein

First two ingredients: rice, sugar

Note: This one isn't the worst cereal, but it's fairly disappointing. 

Post Fruity Pebbles

Nutrition Information per cup:

  • 145 calories
  • 192 milligrams sodium
  • 12 grams sugar
  • 0 grams fiber
  • 2 grams protein

First two ingredients: rice, sugar

Note: These are basically colorful rice crispies.

Kellog's Froot Loops

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 113 calories
  • 141 milligrams sodium
  • 13 grams sugar
  • 3 grams fiber
  • 2 grams protein

First two ingredients: sugar, corn flour blend

Note: Maybe a childhood favorite but not a great choice.

A Word from Verywell

Eating cereal for breakfast is a great idea because it's easy to prepare. You can eat a quick meal and get out the door to start your busy day. Choose cereals made with whole grains without excess sugar and dress them up with fresh fruits and berries for extra health benefits.

Sources:

General Mills Inc. "Cereals." 

Kellogg Co. "Our Brands." 

Post Foods. "Our Brands."

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