20 Healthiest Breakfast CerealsThis post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclosure.
Have you looked at the cereal aisle lately? There are literally a million types of cereal, many of which claim to be healthy when they’re not. So which are the healthiest cereals? On top of that, how do you know which healthy breakfast cereals actually taste good? This guide will help you to find the best healthy cereals for you and your family — cereals that taste great, will keep you full and satisfied, and are actually good for you too!
We’ve all been there.
The cereal aisle.
Rows and rows of colorful boxes with labels like “whole grain” and “all natural” and “organic” – but which one is actually the healthiest? The good news is, there are actually quite a few healthy cereals made with wholesome ingredients available at most grocery stores!
Read on to find my tips and tricks for finding the healthiest cereal, my top 20 best healthy cereal brands, and healthy cereal FAQs.
How To Find The Healthiest Cereals
When looking for the healthiest breakfast cereal, here’s what you should look for. A good healthy cereal will have:
- Low calories per serving: Healthy brands of cereal will have no more than 150 calories per 3/4-1 cup serving (note: for Granola or Raisin Bran type cereals which tend to be denser, you want no more than ~200 calories for 1/2 cup serving).
- Low sugar: You want low sugar cereals with less than 6 grams of sugar per serving (any more than that and you’re venturing into dessert territory). Watch out for all of the ingredients that don’t sound like sugar on the nutritional label but actually are, including: cane sugar, fruit juice, high fructose corn syrup, barley malt, evaporated cane juice, maple syrup, honey, and sucrose. Also you want to choose a cereal with minimal or no dried fruit added, since that’s a hidden source of extra sugar.
- Lots of fiber: The healthiest cereal brands will have at least 4-5 grams of fiber per serving.
- Some protein: At least 3 grams of protein per serving.
- No soy: Avoid cereals that have soy protein isolate or soy protein added, as these are highly processed versions of soy that can have a negative impact on hormones and overall health.
- Whole grains or grain free: Look for “whole grain” or “bran” or “whole wheat” as one of the first few ingredients, or grain free ingredients like beans or chickpeas.
- No preservatives, no artificial ingredients: Avoid cereals with weird ingredients / preservatives that you can’t pronounce. The healthiest cereal to eat will have no preservatives, and no artificial colors or flavors on the ingredient list.
- Organic ingredients: Ideally, the best breakfast cereal brands will have either 100% or at least majority organic ingredients, especially due to glyphosate found in most non-organic cereals. As a runner up, non-GMO cereals can also be ok.
What Is The Healthiest Cereal To Eat?
The best healthy cereal is any cereal that is organic, high in fiber (at least 5 grams per serving), low in sugar (under 6 grams per serving), under 200 calories per serving, and has no preservatives or artificial colors / flavors added.
Is Cereal Good For Weight Loss?
If you’re trying to lose weight, you might be wondering “Is cereal healthy?” The answer here is: it depends! Depends on the type of cereal you’re eating and how frequently you’re eating it. If you’re just having cereal once a day for breakfast, and you’re choosing a high fiber/lower calorie/low sugar option, then that can certainly be part of a diet for weight loss. On the other hand, if you’re loading up on sugary cereals multiple times a day, that’s actually a recipe for weight gain!
What Cereal Has No Sugar?
There are a few healthier cereal brands that have no sugar added! All of the best healthy cereals listed below are low in sugar, but cereals with no sugar include: plain oatmeal / rolled oats, One Degree Foods Organic Sprouted O’s, Three Wishes Grain-Free Unsweetened Cereal, Nature’s Path Organic Puffed Kamut, and Uncle Sam Toasted Whole Wheat Berry Flakes & Flaxseed.
What Is The Least Healthy Cereal?
Most Kellogg’s fortified breakfast cereals aimed at kids (Lucky Charms, Golden Grahams, Froot Loops, etc.) are super unhealthy because they’re high in sugar (which leads to those sugar highs and crashes), low in fiber, and contain artificial colors and flavors. Any cereal that has more than 8-9 grams of sugar per serving and contains artificial colors, flavors or preservatives is going to be pretty unhealthy for you!
The Top 20 Healthiest Breakfast Cereals
From the healthiest o’s, puffs, crunchy cereal, and flakes, to oats, granola, bran and raisin bran cereal, we have got you covered with this list of the healthiest cereals. You’ll even find quite a few grain free and gluten free cereals to try that are healthy for you too!
Forager Cereals might be my top pick for the best healthy cereal on the market today! They are 100% organic, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, whole food based, paleo, low-sugar, vegan and vegetarian friendly. With a super clean ingredients list like chickpeas, navy beans and cassava root as the first ingredient, their cereal is one of the healthiest choices you can make! They come in 3 flavors – plain, cinnamon and chocolate (I like cinnamon the best, it reminds me of a healthy version of cinnamon toast crunch, and really is one of the best tasting healthy cereal options I’ve found). This is definitely the healthiest cereal for adults and kids, and is my personal favorite cereal, I eat it daily.
Ingredients: Ground Chickpeas, Cassava Flour, Cane Sugar, Ground Navy Beans, Pea Protein, Psyllium Husk Powder, Sunflower Oil and/or Safflower Oil, Cinnamon, Sunflower Lecithin
Nutritional Info: 1 cup has 110 calories, 4 grams fiber, 4 grams sugar, and 4 grams protein.
Price: $7.69 for a 7.5oz box.
Oatmeal is definitely one of the best healthy cereals out there. I love One Degree Foods’ oats and cereals, because all of their healthy breakfast cereals are organic, non-GMO, and sprouted (sprouted grains have more available vitamins & minerals than regular grains, less starch, and are easier to digest). They also have sprouted steel cut oats and sprouted quick oats. They actually have a Sprouted O’s dry cereal that I love as well that’s made with sprouted oats and is gluten free, but it’s a bit hard to find which is why I haven’t officially included it in this list here. Oatmeal is one of those cereals that you really can’t go wrong with – it’s high in fiber, has protein, is always going to be the best sugar free cereal and least processed cereal option, and is super filling.
Ingredients: Organic sprouted rolled oats
Nutritional Info: 1/3 cup uncooked has 140 calories, 4 grams fiber, 0 grams sugar, and 6 grams protein.
Price: $8.19 for a 24oz package.
Organic rolled oats especially are low glycemic compared to their instant oats counterparts – which is beneficial in stabilizing blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Oats are one of the best cereals to eat, because they are packed with nutrition and are rich in B vitamins, have a high fiber content, and lots of essential minerals. The first and only ingredient on the nutrition label for this healthy cereal brand is organic rolled oats. Top these whole-grain oats with some sliced banana, fresh berries, and peanut butter for a filling and complete meal!
Ingredients: Organic whole grain rolled oats
Nutritional Info: 1 cup of cooked rolled oats has 150 calories, 3 g fat, 27g carbs, 4 g fiber, 0-1 g sugar, and 5 g protein.
Price: $3.72 for an 18oz package.
This Nature’s Path cereal has just one ingredient – organic whole grain Kamut Khorasan wheat. Free from artificial flavors, preservatives and colors, Certified USDA Organic, vegan, and non-GMO. It’s a healthy low calorie cereal option that you can’t really go wrong with!
Ingredients: organic whole grain kamut khorasan wheat
Nutritional Info: 1 cup has 50 calories, 2 grams fiber, 0 grams sugar, and 2 grams protein.
Price: $3.41 for a 6oz bag.
This is my top pick among all of the Barbara’s Cereals line, it’s also one of the most popular cereals I’ve found for kids that’s actually healthy! Simple ingredients, non-GMO, crispy and slightly sweet. Enjoy this healthy cold cereal with low-fat milk, or your favorite plant based milk like unsweetened almond milk or oat milk.
Ingredients: Yellow corn flour, corn bran flour, unsulphured molasses, whole oat flour, expeller pressed high oleic oil (canola and/or sunflower), salt, baking soda, vitamin c (ascorbic acid), natural vitamin e (mixed tocopherols to maintain freshness)
Nutritional Info: 1 cup has 130 calories, 6g fiber, 6g sugar and 3g protein.
Price: $6.70 for a 10oz box.
This is a good choice for a healthier alternative to Honey Nut Cheerios. Kashi Heart to Heart is delicious and comes in two flavors (honey nut and cinnamon). It’s USDA Organic Certified, non-GMO, perfectly sweet, one of the best oat cereal brands, and is crunchy and packed with whole grains.
Ingredients: Whole oat flour, degerminated yellow cornmeal, invert cane syrup, oat fiber, honey, salt, expeller pressed canola oil, natural flavors, iron (ferric phosphate), mixed tocopherols (vitamin E) for freshness.
Nutritional Info: 1 cup has 150 calories, 6 grams fiber, 7 grams sugar, and 4 grams protein.
Price: $6.49 for a 12oz box.
This cinnamon version of Kashi Heart to Heart is just as delicious as its honey nut counterpart, is a heart healthy cereal, and has all of the same benefits of the other flavor! It’s organic, non-GMO, sweet, crunchy, and packed with whole grains.
Ingredients: Whole oat flour, degerminated yellow cornmeal, invert cane syrup, oat fiber, honey, cinnamon, salt, expeller pressed canola oil, iron (ferric phosphate), natural flavors, mixed tocopherols (vitamin E) for freshness, ginger, cardamom
Nutritional Info: 1 cup has 150 calories, 5 grams fiber, 7 grams sugar, and 4 grams protein.
Price: $6.49 for a 12oz box.
The best alternative to corn flakes or bran flakes! It’s the healthiest bran cereal option I’ve found that’s widely available in grocery stores. These flax based flakes are hearty, filling, and packed with healthy fats thanks to the omega-3 rich flaxseeds. Organic, Non-GMO, vegan, kosher, and slightly sweet.
Ingredients: Whole Wheat Flour, Wheat Bran, Evaporated Cane Juice, Flax, Oat Bran, Barley Malt Extract, Sea Salt, tocopherols (Natural Vitamin E)
Nutritional Info: 1 cup has 150 calories, 7g fiber, 5g sugar and 5g protein.
Price: $3.79 for a 13.25oz box
This healthy whole grain cereal is best alternative to shredded wheat (especially frosted shredded wheat)! Non-GMO, no high fructose corn syrup (frosted shredded wheat does have high fructose corn syrup), vegan friendly, and is sweetened with molasses instead of refined sugar.
Ingredients: Whole oat flour (with added oat bran), yellow corn flour (with added corn bran), unsulphured molasses, whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda, natural vitamin e (mixed tocopherols to maintain freshness), vitamin c (ascorbic acid)
Nutritional Info: 1 cup has 140 calories, 5g fiber, 7g sugar, and 5g protein.
Price: $5.49 for a 14oz box.
The best healthy alternative to regular Cheerios! Regular Cheerios is not organic and is high in glyphosate residue (a pesticide). Cascadian Farm Organic Purely O’s tastes just like regular Cheerios but is 100% organic and non-GMO which means you don’t have to worry about pesticide residue on your cereal! It’s one of the best low-sugar cereals – it’s crunchy and mild – and is also great for a toddler/kid finger food or cereal snack.
Ingredients: Whole grain oats, whole grain barley, wheat starch, malted barley extract, sea salt, calcium carbonate, oats, malted barley, vitamin e (mixed tocopherols) added to preserve freshness.
Nutritional Info: 1.5 cups has 140 calories, 4 grams fiber, 1 gram sugar, and 4 grams protein.
Price: $6.49 for a 8.6oz box.
Only 4 ingredients, Non-GMO, Vegan. This honestly would be my #1 pick but taste wise, but it’s not organic and it can be pretty bland. I recommend buying this and mixing it with one of the best healthy cereals above (50-50) to bring a little more flavor to your breakfast bowl!
Ingredients: Whole grain wheat, flaxseed, barley malt, salt
Nutritional Info: 3/4 cup of this low sugar, high-fiber cereal has 220 calories, 10g fiber, 0g sugar and 8g protein
Price: $6.12 for a 10oz box
Three Wishes is one of the tastiest high-protein cereals I’ve found. It’s also a grain-free, vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, and a paleo friendly cereal! It’s low in carbs, high in protein and high in fiber. Their healthy cereal comes in 6 flavors: Cinnamon, Honey, Unsweetened, Cocoa, Fruity, and Frosted – giving you something for everyone!
Ingredients: The unsweetened option has just 4 simple ingredients: chickpeas, tapioca, pea protein and salt. The flavored versions will have these ingredients plus: cane sugar, monk fruit, and natural flavors.
Nutritional Info: 3/4 cup has 120-130 calories, 3 grams fiber, 0 grams sugar (the flavored versions have only 3 grams of sugar), and 8 grams of protein.
Price: $6.70 for an 8.6oz box.
Love Grown’s cereal is a healthy option for anyone looking for a high protein gluten free cereal. It’s non-GMO, vegan and made primarily with beans and lentils!
Ingredients: Bean blend (navy beans, lentils, garbanzo beans), brown rice flour, salt, vitamin E (to maintain freshness).
Nutritional Info: 1.25 cups has 130 calories, 5 grams fiber, 1 gram sugar, and 6 grams protein.
Price: $5.99 for a 8oz box.
A great option for gluten-free cereals that are healthy that also happen to be Non-GMO and is made with whole grain brown rice flour.
Ingredients: Corn flour, whole grain brown rice flour, cane sugar, whole grain pure oat flour, fructooligosaccharides (prebiotic), oat hull fiber, calcium carbonate, sea salt, natural flavor, caramel color, anatto (for color), tocopherols (to maintain freshness).
Nutritional Info: 1 cup has 130 calories, 4 grams fiber, 7 grams sugar, 3 grams protein
Price: $7.86 for a 10oz box
This healthy low sugar cereal is gluten free, non-GMO, slightly sweet and the perfect topping for Greek yogurt bowls or smoothie bowls.
Ingredients: Oats, tapioca syrup, brown rice, cane sugar, honey, millet, oat flour, coconut, canola oil, buckwheat, amaranth, molasses, quinoa, brown rice syrup, sea salt, Vitamin E (tocopherols to maintain freshness).
Nutritional Info: 1/3 of a cup has 110 calories, 2g fiber, 5g sugar and 2g protein.
Price: $7.90 for an 11oz package
These crunchy clusters are non-GMO, with whole grain oats and hearty almonds, and are one of my favorite healthy breakfast cereal options because they’re low in sugar. This cold cereal is a great choice for a low calorie, low sugar granola – it has 45% less sugar most leading granola brands!
Ingredients: Whole grain oats, brown rice syrup, almonds, cane sugar, oat bran, brown rice, ground flax seeds, natural flavors.
Nutritional Info: 1/4 cup has 120 calories, 2g fiber, 3g sugar and 3g protein.
Price: $7.99 for a 12oz bag
USDA Organic, Non-GMO, Made with a variety of ancient grains including quinoa, amaranth and chia. Uses coconut sugar which is a lower glycemic option. One of the best healthy cereal brands if you’re looking for an organic healthy way to get your granola fix.
Ingredients: Organic Gluten-Free Oats, Organic Coconut Palm Sugar, Organic Raw Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Puffed Amaranth, Organic Millet Flakes, Organic Quinoa Flakes, Organic Chia Seeds, Organic Cinnamon, Salt.
Nutritional Info: 1/3 of a cup has 130 calories, 2g fiber, 7g sugar, 3g protein.
Price: $5.67 for a 12oz bag
Certified gluten free, made with wild blueberries, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds for more protein. This non-GMO project verified cereal is one of the best healthy muesli brands. It has half the sugar and twice the protein when compared to most other muesli brands, making it a great option if you’re looking for a healthy muesli cereal. Enjoy it cold with milk or hot with water or milk, or even use it as a topping for yogurt!
Ingredients: Gluten free oats, sorghum flakes, buckwheat groats, blueberries (blueberries, apple juice), unsweetened coconut chips (no sulfites), apples, organic honey, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, lemon extract
Nutritional Info: 1/2 cup has 240 calories, 6g fiber, 4g added sugar (7 grams total sugar) and 8g protein.
Price: $15 for a 32oz bag (equates to $7.50 for a 16oz bag)
Ezekiel makes some of the most nutritious cereal – it’s USDA Organic, made with sprouted live grains, legumes, seeds and has absolutely no flour! This is one of the healthiest boxed cereal options and would be my top granola pick, but just like the Uncle Sam cereal, it’s a little on the bland side and works well when paired with another cereal 50-50. They have a few other flavors (Almond, Golden Flax, etc.) that are equally good for you!
Ingredients: Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Whole Barley, Organic Sprouted Whole Millet, Organic Sprouted Whole Lentils, Organic Sprouted Whole Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Whole Spelt, Filtered Water, Sea Salt.
Nutritional Info: 1/2 cup has 190 calories, 6g fiber, 0g sugar and 8g protein.
Price: $8.66 for a 16oz box.
While dried fruit based cereals may not be the healthiest cold cereals to eat, this particular brand is a great alternative to traditional Kellogg’s Raisin Bran (which has tons of sugar – 18g per serving). It is high in fiber and contains healthy fats from the flax seeds. The Nature’s Path version has only 4.8 grams of added sugar (10.4 grams of total sugar) for each 1 cup serving.
Ingredients: Organic whole wheat meal, organic raisins (coated with organic sunflower oil), organic wheat bran, organic cane sugar, organic flax seeds, organic oat bran, organic barley malt extract, sea salt, tocopherols (vitamin E).
Nutritional Info: 168 calories for 1 cup, 7.2 grams fiber, 10.4 grams sugar (only 4.8 grams added sugar) and 5 grams protein. (Note: 1.25 cups has 210 calories, 9 grams fiber, 13 grams sugar / 6 grams added sugar, and 6 grams protein).
Price: $4.33 for a 14oz box
Healthy Cereal FAQs
Healthy whole grains, plant protein, and a small amount of added sugar makes for a nutritious cereal. When trying to find the healthiest cereal, if you prioritize cereals that are low in sugar (less than 6 grams per serving) and high in fiber (4 grams or more per serving), you’ll likely find a good option that will keep you full all the way until lunch!
And when in doubt, choose organic, gluten free rolled oats and make oatmeal for breakfast – because that is guaranteed to be healthy every time!
Note: If you’re feeding an especially picky eater, I recommend supplementing with an organic kids vitamin along with their breakfast to ensure they’re getting all of the nutrients they need!
Raisin Bran is certainly a popular cereal, but unfortunately the most common Raisin Bran cereal brands (made by Kellogg’s and Post) are not healthy for you.
While the name “Raisin Bran” sounds healthy, it’s actually loaded with calories and sugar – because of the amount of raisins included in the cereal. Raisins are dried fruit, and dried fruit overall is concentrated in sugar, since it doesn’t have all of the water that its fresh fruit counterparts contain.
One serving of Post’s Raisin Bran cereal (1.25 cups) contains 210 calories and 20 grams of sugar. Kellogg’s is no better – one serving (1 cup) contains 190 calories and 17 grams of sugar.
That’s almost the same amount of sugar in a can of Coke, or a regular sized Snickers Bar! For a healthy Raisin Bran type cereal, try Nature’s Path Flax Plus Raisin Bran instead.
Granola typically runs into the same problem as Raisin Bran – way too much sugar and calories packed into a small serving! Making granola at home will result in a healthier granola since you can control the amount of sugar and fat added to the recipe (like this low calorie granola recipe that is super low in sugar!)
If you are looking for a pre-made/store-bought granola, follow the same rules as you would when looking for an actually healthy cereal (low in sugar, high in fiber). I like KIND Granola, Bare Naked Fit Granola, and Purely Elizabeth Granola.
Remember, with granola, portion size matters – you can go overboard even with the healthy granola brands if you eat more than 1 serving per day!
On the surface, Cheerios look healthy: one serving (1.5 cups) has 140 calories, 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein (and they are gluten-free).
However, because Cheerios are not organic, they have been found to contain high levels of the carcinogen glyphosate – so I wouldn’t recommend them!
Instead, try One Degree Foods Sprouted O’s or Cascadian Farms Purely O’s.
Unfortunately no, Captain Crunch is not healthy at all! It is low in nutritional value, highly processed, contains no fiber, is not organic, and likely contains high levels of the carcinogen glyphosate. It’s also has an extremely high sugar content (17 grams per serving size!!) and includes artificial colors (yellow #5 and #6), and includes BHT (an ingredient banned in Japan, Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand due to it being classified as a carcinogen).
Quaker Simply Granola Oats with Honey and Raisins might sound healthy, but it is not healthy at all. It’s high in calories (270 for just 2/3 cup), high in sugar (16 grams per serving), and Quaker oats have been shown to have high levels of glyphosate because they are not organic. It’s also not vegan friendly as it contains whey protein. While this cereal does have a good amount of fiber and protein, it’s not enough to offset the negative attributes of this cereal.
Grape Nuts is actually pretty healthy! It’s the best choice of conventional breakfast cereals that I’ve found. It’s Non-GMO, has only 4 ingredients (Whole grain wheat flour, malted barley flour, salt, dried yeast), and has 7 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar and 6 grams of protein per serving.
The only downside to Grape Nuts is that it’s super calorie dense and is not a granola (which is the only type of cereal I’d expect more calorie density). Grape Nuts has 400 calories for a 1 cup serving (200 calories for 1/2 cup), which is why I didn’t include it on my list of healthy cereals above!
Special K original cereal looks healthy, but it’s actually not that healthy for you. There are some positives: it’s low in calories (150 calories for 1.25 cups), high in protein (7 grams per 1.25 cups), and low in sugar (5 grams per 1.25 cups). But it has no fiber, includes BHT, and Special K was also one of the cereals found to contain glyphosate, so I would recommend avoiding it and choosing one of the other healthier cereal choices on this list above.
Rice Chex looks healthy, but (like Special K and Cheerios), is not healthy for you unfortunately. The positive aspects of Rice Chex include: it’s gluten free, low in calories (160 calories for 1.33 cups) and low in sugar (3 grams per 1.33 cups). But Rice Chex has very little fiber, and it’s not organic and it is GMO. It’s also pretty processed and has a glycemic index of 69, which is more than a chocolate bar!
I hope this list of healthy cereals that taste good helps you to pick out a great and satisfying cereal – it’s the perfect excuse to make a healthy start to your day! Also, check out some of these delicious healthy eating guides!