Guide to healthy breakfast cereal brands including certified organic, nonGMO, low sugar, high fiber and gluten free varieties.
If you have kids then I bet you have a cereal battle going on. If it hasn’t happened yet, believe me, it will. Even if you try to shelter them, your kids will eventually discover the addicting allure of sweetened cereals – at a friend’s sleepover or at a night at Grandma’s house. Once they have had their first bite of neon colored sugar bombs, they will never want to go back. And the battle begins…
Why It Matters
Breakfast cereal is one of those things we love but hate at the same time. Convenience is its biggest asset. Grab the box and the milk and breakfast is served – a weekday morning miracle!
On the flip side, breakfast cereal is often not a very healthy option. Conventional cereal brands are highly processed, low in nutrition and loaded with artificial ingredients. Here’s what’s NOT to love about most breakfast cereals you’ll find on the shelf:
- Sugar – Sugar is addictive and unhealthy and we shouldn’t be eating so much of it at breakfast
- Artificial colors and flavors – Linked to hyperactivity, attention issues and allergic reactions
- Preservatives – BHT, theobromine and other unhealthy food additives are linked to health problems like cancer and endocrine disruption
- Low nutritional value – While many breakfast cereals have added vitamins, they are often low in fiber and protein
What To Look For in a Healthy Breakfast Cereal
The extreme position is to not allow your kids to eat breakfast cereal at all – or if you do, limit it to the unsweetened variety. But like I said, you can’t keep the good stuff off their radar forever. Fortunately, there are plenty of better cereal brands available – but beware – some of those natural and organic brands are still high in sugar and low on nutrition.
Here’s what to look for when shopping for healthier breakfast cereal for kids (or adults):
- Low sugar – 6 grams or less is ideal
- Certifications – When you see the USDA Organic or NonGMO Project Verified seals you won’t have to worry about pesticide reside or untested GMOs
- Natural flavors and colors – Safe alternatives to artificial versions
- Fiber – 5 grams or more will help keep you full longer
- Whole grains – Whole wheat, oats and other whole grains are much healthier than processed grains
- Healthy ingredients – Superfoods like chia and quinoa, or sprouted grains that are more nutritious and easier to digest
- Fair Trade ingredients – Feel good knowing that ingredients like sugar and chocolate are from Fair Trade sources
Healthy Breakfast Cereal Brands
The breakfast cereal aisle is confusing – no doubt about it! To make your next shopping trip a tad bit easier, I’ve done some research for you. The chart below rates popular natural cereal brands on a variety of important health and nutrition dimensions. After that you’ll find another chart with some of the healthiest breakfast cereals with 6 grams of sugar or less!
Pssst! Even though these are healthier options, that doesn’t mean you should eat cereal every day. At our house the kids only have cold cereal 3 days a week – and leave the rest for other nutritious breakfast options, like overnight oats, toast with nut butter, eggs and all that other good stuff! (Note: I didn’t include granola in this guide – I could do a whole separate post on that!)
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Kid Favorites Under 6 grams of Sugar
We’ve already established that kids love the sweet stuff. Here’s how we can give them cereal they will love but still keep some control over the situation. I’ve rounded up the best kid-friendly healthy breakfast cereals that are still 6 grams of sugar or less. Does your family have a favorite, lower sugar cereal? Let us know in the comments! (P.S. A great place to buy healthy breakfast cereal at affordable prices is Thrive Market.)
Your turn: Do you have a breakfast cereal battle going on? What’s your favorite healthier option?