What is the healthiest box cereal?

When it comes to starting the day off right with a nutritious breakfast, cereal is a go-to option for many. With so many different cereals lining grocery store shelves, however, it can be tough to know which ones are actually healthy. This article will examine some of the key factors that contribute to a cereal’s nutritional value and provide recommendations for the healthiest boxed cereal options currently available.

What makes a cereal healthy?

There are a few key things to look for when assessing the healthiness of cereal:

  • Fiber – Cereals that are high in fiber help support digestive health and keep you feeling fuller longer. Look for at least 3-5 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Protein – Having protein at breakfast helps sustain energy levels. Aim for at least 5 grams of protein per serving.
  • Sugar content – Less added sugar is best, ideally under 9 grams per serving.
  • Serving size – Pay attention to serving sizes, as calorie count can add up quickly if multiple servings are consumed.
  • Vitamins & minerals – Choose cereals fortified with vitamins and minerals, like iron, vitamin D, and B vitamins.
  • Whole grains – Opt for whole grain cereals like whole wheat, oats, and bran.

Avoid cereals that list sugar or some form of sweetener as one of the first few ingredients. Also be wary of misleading health claims on packaging – check the nutrition label to make sure the cereal aligns with the criteria above.

The top 10 healthiest box cereals

Based on an evaluation of fiber content, protein, sugar, vitamins and minerals, and ingredients, here are 10 nutritious boxed cereal options:

1. Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal

Ezekiel cereals are made from sprouted whole grains and legumes, which makes them easier to digest and packed with nutrients. A serving contains:

  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Key nutrients: Contains vitamin D, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and folate

With no added sugar and a hearty serving of protein, Ezekiel makes for a filling and energizing start to the day. It has a nice crunchy texture and nutty flavor.

2. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Grain Rolled Oats

This simple, unsweetened whole grain oatmeal from Bob’s Red Mill provides:

  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Key nutrients: Contains phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, selenium, iron, and B vitamins

Rolled oats make for an incredibly satisfying breakfast. Feel free to dress this cereal up with fresh fruit, nuts, milk, or yogurt.

3. Nature’s Path Organic Mesa Sunrise

Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise offers wholesome ingredients:

  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Sugar: 3 grams
  • Key nutrients: Contains iron, B vitamins, vitamin D

This cereal combines whole grains like amaranth, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat for a gluten-free, nutrient-dense option. The sweetness comes from cinnamon and a touch of organic honey.

4. Post Grape-Nuts

Grape-Nuts has been around for over 100 years, and its simple ingredients deliver on nutrition:

  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Sugar: 5 grams
  • Key nutrients: Contains iron, B vitamins, magnesium

Made from wheat, malted barley, and yeast, this high fiber cereal has a pleasing crunchy texture and mild flavor – great for topping with fruit. Just beware of the high sodium content.

5. Uncle Sam Original Cereal

Uncle Sam Original contains:

  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Protein: 7 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Key nutrients: High in magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and vitamin B2

This whole grain wheat cereal brings hearty protein and fiber in a low calorie serving. It has a light, crispy texture.

6. Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nuggets

Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nuggets deliver:

  • Fiber: 7 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Sugar: 8 grams
  • Key nutrients: Good source of zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron

With 7 different whole grains, this cereal provides filling fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. The texture strikes a nice balance between crunchy and chewy.

7. Barbara’s Shredded Wheat

Barbara’s makes their shredded wheat with:

  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Key nutrients: High in B vitamins and iron

A classic, old-fashioned cereal made purely from whole wheat – it’s filling, low in sugar, and simple to dress up with your favorite toppings.

8. Cascadian Farm Organic Purely O’s

Cascadian Farm’s oat cereal contains:

  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Key nutrients: Good source of thiamin, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc

This unadulterated whole grain oat cereal has no added sugars or salt – just pure oat goodness. It has a nice light crunch.

9. Nature’s Path Optimum Power Blueberry Cinnamon

Nature’s Path Optimum Power offers:

  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Sugar: 2 grams
  • Key nutrients: Contains 9g protein, 5g fiber, 8g prebiotic fiber, 24 vitamins and minerals

Packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, this wholesome cereal provides lasting energy. The flavors come from blueberries, cinnamon, and a hint of organic stevia.

10. Bear Naked Triple Berry Fit

Bear Naked’s protein packed cereal has:

  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Protein: 11 grams
  • Sugar: 7 grams
  • Key nutrients: Provides B vitamins, folic acid, iron

With crunchy pecans and antioxidant-rich berries, this satisfying high protein cereal will jumpstart your morning.

What to look for when choosing a healthy cereal

When scanning the cereal aisle, keep these tips in mind:

  • Opt for whole grains – Look for “100% whole grain” or whole grains listed first on the label.
  • Seek out fiber – Shoot for at least 3 grams per serving.
  • Pick cereals low in sugar – Aim for under 9 grams added sugar per serving.
  • Check the protein content – You want at least 5 grams of protein per serving.
  • Read the ingredient list – Avoid cereals with sugar or sweeteners at the top of the list.
  • Be aware of fortification – Many cereals fortify with vitamins and minerals like iron, vitamin D, B vitamins, and zinc.
  • Consider organic – Organic cereal options eliminate potential pesticide residues.

You can balance out any cereals that are lacking in certain areas by pairing them with nutritious additions like fruit, nut butter, milk, or yogurt.

Are granola cereals healthy?

Some granola cereals can be quite high in added sugars. However, there are some healthier options available, like Nature’s Path Qi’a, that include ingredients like chia seeds, coconut, and nutritious oils while keeping sugars low. When choosing a granola cereal, still aim for at least 3-5 grams of fiber and under 9 grams of sugar per serving.

Healthy homemade granola

You can also make healthier granola at home by using ingredients like oats, nuts, coconut flakes, and cinnamon or other spices for flavor. Bake your homemade granola plain and then add a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup to each bowl as needed.

Are muesli cereals healthy?

Traditional Swiss muesli is made from raw oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. It can be a very nutritious choice when sugar is not added. Be sure to soak muesli overnight as the raw oats and seeds are not readily digestible if eaten crunchy. You can make your own healthier muesli mix by combining rolled oats, nuts, seeds, and just a touch of honey and oil. Add your own fresh fruit as desired.

Kid-friendly healthy cereal choices

It can be tricky finding healthy cereal options that kids get excited about. Here are some great choices:

  • Cascadian Farm Organic Kids Clifford Crunch: made with organic corn, this cereal provides 3g fiber, 4g protein, and 2g sugar.
  • Barbara’s Multigrain Puffins: With 4g fiber and 2g sugar, this cute penguin-shaped cereal made from puffed whole grains will appeal to kids.
  • Nature’s Path Qi’a Superfruit & Veggie: This yummy cereal is packed with nutritious ingredients like pumpkin seeds, beets, carrots and berries. It delivers 4g fiber, 5g protein and 8g sugar.
  • EnviroKidz Gorilla Munch: Kids will go ape for this gluten-free cereal made from rice and cocoa puffs. It provides 2g fiber, 1g protein and 1g sugar.
  • Annie’s Homegrown Bunny Snacks: These adorable snacks are made from whole grains and deliver 4g fiber, 3g protein, and 3g sugar.

Pair kid cereals with milk and fresh fruit for added nutrition. Getting kids involved in preparing their own cereal can also make mornings easier and more enjoyable.

Health concerns regarding boxed cereals

While cereal can certainly be part of a healthy diet, there are a few potential downsides to consider:

  • Added sugars – Many conventional cereals are loaded with added sugars, which provide empty calories and promote overeating when consumed in excess.
  • Lack of protein – Cereals that are pure simple carbs without much protein will not keep you feeling full and energized for long.
  • High sodium – A lot of cereals add substantial amounts of salt during processing, so keep sodium content in check.
  • Low fiber – Cereals focused solely on flavor often lack adequate fiber to support digestion and lasting satiety.
  • Refined grains – opting for whole grains over refined grains provides more nutrition and health benefits.
  • Boring taste – Basic healthy cereals like shredded wheat or plain Cheerios can get boring fast, making you crave less nutritious options. Choose cereals with added crunch, flavor and texture for satisfaction.

The solution is to be choosy – read nutrition labels and ingredient lists carefully. Seek out cereals made from whole grains that offer adequate fiber, protein, and nutrients without going overboard on sugars. Then, jazz up your cereal bowl with tasty mix-ins to create a balanced, appealing breakfast.

Healthy cereal hacks

While some cereals are nutritious enough to enjoy plain out of the box, creative mix-ins can greatly enhance almost any cereal’s flavor and nutrition profile.

Mix and match

One easy hack is to combine two different types of cereal, such as granola with corn flakes or muesli with puffed rice. This adds contrasting flavors and textures.

Get salty

Sprinkling a bit of salt over your cereal may sound strange, but it helps balance sweetness and enhances other flavors.

Add healthy fats

Nuts, nut butters, and seeds lend crunch plus filling healthy fats and protein. Avocado is another delicious option.

Bring the sweetness

A small drizzle of honey, maple syrup, or melted chocolate chips can satisfy a craving for sweetness. Dried or fresh fruits also pair nicely with cereal.

Pour on the milk

Milk, dairy-free milks, and yogurt add creaminess, calcium, and protein. For a protein boost, try mixing milk and yogurt.

Think outside the bowl

Get creative by using cereal to coat baked chicken tenders, as a salad topping, mixed into trail mix, blended into smoothies, or as an ice cream mix-in.


While checking the nutrition label is key, you don’t have to sacrifice taste or get bored when choosing healthy cereal options. Cereals made from whole grains that are higher in fiber and protein while being lower in sugar tend to be the most nutritious. Mixing and matching cereals or adding flavorful ingredients can keep your breakfast bowl satisfying. Getting creative with preparation methods can also help boost nutrition and prevent cereal fatigue. With so many wholesome cereal options to explore, there’s no need to settle for sugary, low-fiber picks that will leave you hungry. Equip yourself with the criteria above for finding truly healthy boxed cereals, and feel good about starting each day with a nutritious, tasty breakfast.

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