The cereal aisle can be daunting. Box after box of bright messages call out, “Try me! I have whole grains.” With so many options, it is difficult to make the right choice. Here are some tips for choosing the healthiest option in the cereal aisle.
Look for a cereal that has at least 4 of the following:
- 5 grams of fiber or more
- 8 grams or less of sugar
- maximum 200 calories per serving
- maximum 200 mg sodium per serving
- ingredients you can pronounce and recognize
We’ve compiled a list of a few specific cereals that fit our criteria for health.
Don’t get discouraged if your healthy cereal looks more like bran flakes than marshmallow rainbows. You can make your cereal more interesting with nutritious toppings.
- Add fruit: Frozen berries are bite sized and easy to keep on hand–this means no prep work and no fear that they will go bad.
- Use low-fat dairy milk or a high protein dairy substitute like soy milk.
- Add a tablespoon of nuts, seeds or almond butter, if your cereal does not already contain them. Healthy fats increase satiety.
- Try cinnamon for a boost of flavor. Cinnamon also helps control your blood sugar.
All of the grain in your cereal should be whole grains. The language “5 grams whole grain” indicates that the cereal contains less nutritious refined grains. A cereal that is 100% whole grain is more likely to have adequate fiber content (this helps you stay full longer).
When choosing hot cereal, my number one pick is steel cut oats, sometimes labeled Irish or Scottish Oats.
Steel cut oats tend to be passed by because they take 25 minutes to prepare. This is because they are minimally processed, which means they contain more nutritional benefit and are worth the extra preparation time.
- Make a large batch of steel cut oats and use them throughout the week.
- Check the freezer aisle for pre-prepared varieties of steel cut oats.
Once you find a cereal that fits your health and taste goals, remember it. You can approach the cereal aisle with confidence and purpose, and tune out the bold claims on bright boxes.