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

Bowl of cereal
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I've written an article explaining how to determine if a breakfast cereal is good for you or not. So, why not put all that good information into practice?

I checked out 17 major name brand breakfast cereals that I think would probably be the most appealing to grown-ups. I went with major name brands – General Mills, Kellogg's and Post Cereals because they're available in every grocery store. And of those 17, I picked what I think are the seven best.

I based my choices on the amount of sugar, sodium, fiber, protein, and calories in one cup of dry cereal. I looked at the fat too, but they'll all pretty low in fat except for one. Also, I looked at the first two ingredients listed on the labels. Some type of whole grain is a must-have.

Nutrition information is available for all the cereals at the brands' websites. Or you can find them all at Calorie Count. I had to do a little math for some brands because they claim their serving size is 3/4 or 1/2 cup, and I wanted to compare the same volume for each cereal.

So, in no particular order, these are the seven major name brand cereals that I think are pretty good for you.

Post Shredded Wheat

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, which I like. I also like that one cup of Shredded Wheat has 6 grams fiber and 6 grams protein.

Calorie-wise it was about in the middle of the pack – with 170 calories.

I'd serve Shredded Wheat with some healthful 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 my preference of 5 grams sugar per serving.

General Mills Fiber One

I think 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

I know there are several varieties of Cheerios, but I'm only talking about the original version. One cup of Cheerios 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. I mean all of these cereals are​ fortified with some amount of micronutrients, but Total contains 100 percent of most of them. That's good – but it doesn't mean that it's okay for the rest of your diet to suck. You still need plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables.

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 I like – it's listed as the second ingredient, after whole grain wheat, about 7 grams per cup of dry cereal. But I think it's fine as long as you don't add more sugar. But feel free to add berries and fruit for extra sweetness.

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 I'd like – 8 grams per one cup of dry cereal, so I wouldn't 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 – not 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 corn meal.

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.

Now for the Rest of the Cereals

Here are the rest of the cereals I compared. I'm not saying they're bad cereals – but some have a bit more sugar than I'd like or not enough fiber.

This isn't an all-inclusive list -- I know there are plenty of cereals out there that I didn't even look at. But it gives you a good idea of what's lurking in the cereal aisle at your local grocery store.

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 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 is fairly 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, but also low in fiber. Some protein, however.

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 the downside it has too much sugar and this is the one cereal that has a lot of fat – 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.

Sources

General Mills Inc. "Big G Product List." ​http://www.generalmills.com/Home/Brands/Cereals/Big_G_Cereals/Brand%20Product%20List%20Page.

Kellogg Co. "Our Brands." http://www.kelloggs.com/en_US/our-brands.html.

Post Foods. "Meet the Post Family." http://postfoods.com/our-brands/.

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