Did anyone else find immeasurable joy in the mini boxes of Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes, and Cap’n Crunch as a kid? (It can’t just be me.) Now that you’re all grown up and shopping for cereal with the nutrition label in mind, it has probably come to your attention that the boxed breakfast choice—even in miniature—often packs a lot of added sugar. So to help you choose the healthiest box, I asked a dietitian what the healthiest cereal is for five of today’s most popular eating plans.
Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, a registered dietitian and author of The Better Period Food Solution, says that a few general guidelines can help you navigate the vast cereal aisle with your health in mind. “It’s a win when the ingredient list is on the shorter side, has more protein and fiber than sugar, doesn’t upset your stomach by overloading your gut with tough-to-breakdown sweeteners or sugar alcohols, is easy to find, and most importantly, sets you up for dietary success throughout the day,” she says. So if you read that list and say check, check, check, check, check, you’re good to toss the one-step breakfast into your grocery cart.
What is the healthiest cereal? A dietitian answers with the top 6, based on your preferred eating plan.
Keto: MAGIC SPOON
Magic Spoon’s colorful boxes reflect just how flavorful the cereal is. And Beckerman says that for keto-eaters, it’s the best option on the market. It’s high in protein and fiber and features a short list of ingredients. “If you are wondering where the cereal’s sweetness comes from, you have monk fruit to thank. Monk fruit delivers sweetness without influencing blood sugar or insulin release which makes it diabetic- and keto-friendly,” says Beckerman.
“Vegans need to bring a watchful eye to the ingredient list of cereals, particularly honey, milk, marshmallows, and gelatin. You won’t find any of that in 88 Acres Cinnamon and Oats Seed’nola that is made up of gluten-free certified oats and a blend of seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, and flax,” says Beckerman. All the seeds in this particular product also help with gut diversity.
dash/paleo: BOB’S RED MILL PALEO-STYLE MUESLI
The DASH diet calls for slashing sodium, and a cereal low in the stuff is hard to come by—to say the very least. This particular buy contains zero grams of sodium and plenty of delicious ingredients in every single bite. “Because of the wholesome ingredients like coconut flakes and sunflower seeds in this cereal, you will actually feel good about the high quality and real nutrients you are delivering your body,” says Beckerman.
Vegetarian: FLAXPLUS MULTIBRAN FLAKES
Don’t let the word “bran” deter you from trying this cereal. “The flaxseeds in the cereal make it an excellent source of omega-3s and one serving delivers the body with 15 percent of the daily value of iron, which is hard to come by in a cereal. Because vegetarians omit animal proteins, they should be on the lookout for iron and omega-3 sources in their diet—so this cereal helps deliver these essential and sought after nutrients,” says Beckerman. To boot, its crunchy texture means it pairs perfectly with bananas, blueberries, and strawberries.
Mediterranean diet: EZEKIEL 4:9 ALMOND SPROUTED WHOLE GRAIN CEREAL
This is my favorite cereal maybe ever (sorry, Lucky Charms). And thus, I’m very glad to hear that the hearty, crunchy stuff jives well with the ever-popular Mediterranean Diet. “The Mediterranean diet focuses on healthy fats and whole grains so this cereal checks off those boxes,” says Beckerman. “The sprouted grains in this cereal make it easy to digest and also provide more bioavailable nutrition which is a major plus in my book.”
Beckerman’s Favorite: Bob’s Red mill 6 grain hot cereal with flaxseed
“The worst thing about cereal—besides some of them overflowing with sugar—is that not all of them will keep you full. That’s why I love Bob’s Red Mill Organic 6 Grain Cereal. It’s made with filling and fiber-rich grains like rye, spelt, and oats and has 0 grams of added sugar. Because it’s a hot cereal, I like to swirl in nut butter for added antioxidants and vitamins, or if I’m on the go, I will break apart pieces of Perfect Bar so it has melted and satisfying chunks of peanut butter,” says Beckerman.
Here’s how to choose a healthy breakfast:
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