Cereal is a popular breakfast option among children and adults alike.
Not all cereals promote health equally, so if a healthy cereal is a priority for you, choose Magic Spoon’s cereal, available in four flavors. Magic Spoons gives you everything you could want in healthy cereal: low net carbohydrates, high protein, no grains, and best of all, it’s tasty!
Mornings can be hectic when you have to take a shower, get dressed, make sure your children are awake and dressed, make your coffee, and hopefully have time to fix yourself breakfast. You may be tempted to just grab a Pop-Tart or skip breakfast altogether, which is a mistake. Breakfast very well may be the most important meal of the day, and skipping breakfast can have significant health implications, which is why we compiled the 10 best healthy cereals.
You can think of breakfast as the key that starts your metabolism engine. Breakfast tells your body it’s time to start the day after hours of fasting during sleep. It also signals to your body that it has enough food and does not have to conserve as much energy as possible — mostly through fat. Breakfast also provides energy to get your brain moving for the first half of your workday, which also happens to be the most productive part of the day for many people.
Breakfast cereals are notoriously sugary, which can be just as detrimental to your day as not eating breakfast. Sugary foods spike your blood sugar, leading to spikes in insulin, both of which your body struggles to balance. This is why it’s crucial to choose a healthy breakfast cereal that contains protein and lacks other potentially harmful ingredients, such as artificial colors and sweeteners.
What are healthy cereals?
Many breakfast cereal manufacturers target children and pack their cereals with tons of processed sugar. Kids eat it up because, well…it tastes good. Sometimes it feels as if we have to choose between a cereal that promotes health and one that genuinely tastes good. The good news is that cereals that have both are available. The bad news is they frequently cost slightly more than the unhealthy ones.
As you choose a cereal, there are three main signposts to pay attention to while you browse the grocery aisles or surf the web:
- High protein
Protein is what makes you feel full and satiated because it reduces the levels of hormones that stimulate hunger in your body. Feeling full means you are less likely to eat, making it easier to lose those last five pounds. While carbohydrates and protein theoretically provide the same amount of energy to the body, it’s not the complete story. Protein requires energy to be broken down and converted into what your body wants, so protein provides less energy to your body than carbohydrates.
- Low carbohydrate
Simple and refined sugars are the heroine of the food world. Ever wonder why all the foods you crave are high in simple sugars? It’s because your body and brain are programmed to seek out and reward the intake of these sugars. This process made good sense for your hunter-gatherer ancestors who didn’t know when their next meal would be, but is detrimental to our modern sugar-abundant lives.
The modern diets loaded with processed food and refined sugars have wreaked havoc on the health of westerners. Medical concerns such as dental issues, diabetes, and heart disease stem from, at least in part, the modern diet rich in simple and refined carbohydrates.
- High fiber
Fiber! The savior of your colon and the ingredient that keeps you regular. High fiber has become a significant advertising buzzword for good reason, because low-fiber diets can contribute to serious medical concerns, such as colon cancer. Getting enough fiber in our food was not a concern for our hunter-gatherer ancestors because they were eating tons of plants high in fiber. In the modern western diet, which is rich in simple sugars and deficient in vegetables and plant materials, we have to be particularly careful that we receive enough fiber in our diets.
- Artificial sweeteners
The potential dangers of artificial sweeteners has been debated for decades with very little progress made to get these sweeteners removed. Artificial sweeteners became popular because people wanted a way to sweeten food while maintaining a trim waistline. With all the controversy surrounding artificial sweeteners, why even take a chance? Choose foods without artificial sweeteners when possible.
- Artificial colors
Artificial colors have received a lot of media attention in the past few years, linking them to child developmental disorders, metabolic disorders, and cognitive disorders. Most savvy health cereal shoppers look for products that are free from artificial colors. Better safe than sorry!
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are another controversial issue that divides the American public. Some studies indicate that GMOs cause cancer, while others dispute these claims. Non-GMO products are only slightly more expensive, but it’s money well spent.
We spent many hours finding and comparing many cereal brands so we could compile the 10 best healthy breakfast cereals. Here at RAVE, we take our responsibility seriously, which is why we considered everything from calories to artificial sweeteners to whether or not a grain-free product was made in a facility that manufactures other grain products. Here are some criteria we looked at, with some questions having more weight than others:
- Calories: Is one serving of cereal under 300 calories?
- Total fat: Is a serving under 5 grams of fat?
- Saturated fat: Is a serving under 2 grams of saturated fat?
- Protein: Does a serving of cereal have any protein?
- Dietary fiber: Does a serving of cereal have any fiber?
- Sugars: How much sugar (including added) does a serving of cereal contain?
- Artificial coloring and sweeteners: Are there any artificial colors or sweeteners?
- Price: How much does a box of cereal cost?
- Reviews: What do cereal eaters say about it?
The Best Healthy Cereals
Magic Spoon Cereal
Topping our list of the 10 healthiest breakfast cereals is one that genuinely stands out from the rest: Magic Spoon Cereal. You likely haven’t heard about this cereal because it is not available any stores, only online. Some consumers may be scared away by the $10 per box price tag, but read on, and you will likely at least give this cereal a chance.
Keto-dieters everywhere rejoice: This cereal boasts 12 grams of protein and only 3 grams of net carbohydrates with each serving. You may say to yourself, yeah great, but I also need something that tastes good and makes me want to eat it. Don’t worry, this cereal is sweetened with allulose, monk fruit, and stevia. Allulose is an up-and-coming sweetener derived from plants that have less than half a calorie per gram.
The gluten sensitive and intolerant also rejoice, because Magic Spoon is grain- and gluten-free. Milk protein is the main ingredient in this cereal. Plus, there are no artificial sweeteners, colors, or GMOs. You can choose between a fruity, frosted, cocoa, or cinnamon.
- High protein and low sugar
- Gluten- and grain-free
- Non-GMO and no artificial colors
- 6 grams total fat
BARBARA’S Puffins Cereal, Cinnamon
Calorie counting just got a whole lot easier with Barbara’s Puffins Cereal, which contains only 90 calories per serving (without milk). If you consider crunchy cinnamon the cat’s meow, look no further. This cereal includes 100% whole grains with 6 grams of fiber, which is about a quarter of the recommended daily adult fiber intake.
The 3 grams of protein in each serving of this cereal help keep you full until your next meal. If you tend to monitor fat intake while counting calories, you don’t even have to take Puffins cereal into account with only 1 gram of total fat and 0 grams of saturated fats. If you happen to be on a ship or a deserted island with only Puffins cereal, you may be able to fight off scurvy with several bowls per day. Each serving of this cereal contains around 16% of your daily requirements of vitamin C.
Whether you are sweetening up a cup of yogurt, grabbing a handful for snacking, or using as a breakfast cereal (with milk or milk substitute of your choice), you are going to fall in love with the cinnamon crunchiness. A few reviewers complain that this cereal tends to stick to their teeth, but with this being the primary concern, take a chance and give it a try.
- Low calorie
- 100% whole grains
- 6 grams of fiber
- 0 grams of saturated fat
- Reasonable price
- Natural flavoring added
- 5 grams added sugar
Kay’s Naturals Protein Breakfast Cereal
Say “okay” to Kay’s Naturals Protein Breakfast Cereal. You may be thinking to yourself that cereal with “protein” in its name must have a lot of it, and you’re right. Each serving of this cereal has a whopping 12 grams of protein, mostly derived from soy. In case you didn’t know, soy is one of the few plant proteins to be considered complete, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein).
Each bowl of this delicious goodness contains only 120 calories, making it another excellent option for calorie-restricting individuals. There is no saturated fat or cholesterol if you happen to be looking out for your heart health (which you should). When you combine these stats with 4 grams of dietary fiber, what emerges is a breakfast cereal you can eat each morning that contributes to, not hinders, your health goals.
Choose between the apple cinnamon, honey almond, or french vanilla flavors; they will all ignite your taste buds and make you reach for a second bowl. If you can’t tolerate gluten, finding a tasty morning breakfast cereal can be challenging. Not with Kay’s Natural Protein Breakfast Cereal: It is gluten free and has no added sweeteners or colorings.
- High protein
- Low calorie
- 4 grams of fiber
- 0 grams saturated fat
- Reasonably priced
- Natural flavoring added
- 3 grams added sugar
Kashi GOLEAN Cereal
A mouth-feel explosion is what you get with Kashi GOLEAN cereal, which is filled with fiber spirals, whole grain puffs, and graham made of soy protein. With high-fiber whole grains, this cereal is a good source of iron: Each serving contains nearly 10% of your daily requirement of iron.
This cereal holds its own in multiple categories of nutrients, such as protein, fiber, and iron. Each serving contains a dozen grams of protein and fiber, and a modest 180 calories. The 12 grams of protein provide nearly a quarter of your daily protein requirement all in one sitting. There are around 40 grams of carbohydrates in each serving, making it a great breakfast option for athletes that work out in the morning.
This cereal uses cold-pressed oil (sometimes called expeller-pressed) instead of chemically extracted oil, which may contain free radicals created from the extraction process. If you’re looking for a cereal that promotes heart and vascular health, choose one with no saturated fat and cholesterol, like this Kashi GOLEAN Cereal. You can find the Kashi brand in major grocery stores around the U.S.
- High protein
- Reasonable calories
- 13 grams of fiber
- Good source of iron
- Natural flavoring added
- 8 grams added sugar
- 40 grams carbohydrates
ProGranola 12g Protein Cereal
If you’re like us, you head to the coffee maker immediately after waking up for that jolt of caffeine to jump-start your day. Instead, think about heading to the pantry to pull out the ProGranola 12g Protein Cereal, which contains 100 milligrams of caffeine extracted from organic green coffee beans. If you look forward to the taste of coffee in the morning, you can skip your morning cup of joe completely, because this cereal is espresso flavored.
Like the name suggests, ProGranola packs 12 grams of protein into this delectable cereal. There are 17 grams of total carbohydrates, 14 of which come from dietary fiber. So, don’t sweat the carbs too much. At only 95 calories, this protein cereal keeps you feeling full and helps you fit into those pants from high school. Maybe the best thing about this product is that there are zero added sugars.
So what do customers say about this protein granola? Frankly, most people love it and say they have to be careful they don’t eat the whole bag. That’s precisely the kind of endorsement we want. The caffeine content may be of concern to some customers, so if you’re caffeine-sensitive, look for an alternative breakfast cereal.
- High protein and low calorie
- 14 grams of fiber
- No added sugar
- 3.5 grams total fat
Love Grown Foods Power O’s Original
If you have fond memories of eating Cheerios as a kid, you will love the Love Grown Foods Power O’s. Shaped like Cheerios and grain-free, Power O’s are made of beans! They taste just like Cheerios and are better for you with 6 grams of protein per serving compared to the 3 grams in Cheerios.
Admittedly, Cheerios have fewer calories per serving (100 calories) compared to Power O’s (130 calories), but you have to look at where the calories are derived. With double the amount of protein and less total and saturated fat, Power O’s takes the gold. Power O’s does have more total carbohydrates than Cheerios, due to the nearly 2 grams extra dietary fiber. Like the saying goes about beans, these Power O’s keep you regular.
So, where does Cheerios beat Power O’s? The iron content. Cheerios has over eight times the iron content than Power O’s, which is attributed to the use of grains in Cheerios that are high in iron. Zero cholesterol and saturated fat make Power O’s as heart-healthy or even more so than Cheerios claims to be.
- High protein and low calorie
- 5 grams of fiber
- 1 gram total fat
- 1 gram added sugar
- Only 0.72 milligrams iron
Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal
Whether you are religiously inclined or not, the Food For Life Ezekiel Cereal will give you a reason to pick up the Bible and look up a few passages. To save you the hassle, Food For Life drew its inspiration from Ezekiel 4:9, “Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself.” So, Food for Life’s products contain wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt.
But what is so great about sprouted whole grain cereal? Sprouted grains have active enzymes that make nutrients our body would otherwise have to break down in our intestines available. Sprouting makes grains easier to digest and allows more nutrients to be absorbed by the body. You get a healthy percentage of many vitamins and minerals when you eat this cereal compared to others.
There are also 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of dietary fiber in each serving. Choosing this cereal is the right decision for your future, given that there are 0 grams cholesterol and 0 grams saturated fat. Since this cereal is grain based, you might expect it to be high in calories. But at only 190 calories, it’s reasonable for calorie counters as well. The downside to this cereal is that there are 40 grams of total carbohydrates.
- High protein and vitamins
- Reasonable calories
- 6 grams of fiber
- 40 grams total carbohydrates
- 200 mg sodium
KZ Clean Eating – Swedish Breakfast Cereal
Paleo dieters go nuts over this seed- and nut-based breakfast cereal by KZ Clean Eating. This cereal is also a good option if you are sensitive to gluten or just looking to cut down on your carbohydrate intake, because it does not contain gluten or wheat. However, individuals who are allergic to nuts or just don’t like them should steer clear.
This cereal contains the lowest net carbohydrates so far in our list of the 10 best healthy cereals at only 2.8 grams per serving. Dietary fiber composes 2.3 of the 2.8 grams, so this cereal is about as low carb as it comes. Sugar alcohols in the form of erythritol make up the remaining 0.5 grams total carbohydrates. A modest 4 grams of protein helps keep you full between meals.
The Swedish Breakfast Cereal contains a modest amount of calories, coming in at 165 per quarter cup serving. So why doesn’t this cereal rank higher? The fat content, and specifically the saturated fat content, hurts this cereal’s rating. The total fat comes to 14 grams, while 6 grams of saturated fat make up around half of the entire fat content. While we would like the saturated fat to be lower, there are 0 grams of cholesterol, which is a big plus in our book.
- Modest protein and calories
- Low total carbohydrates
- 2.3 grams of fiber
- 14 grams total fat
- Sugar alcohols
Nutritious Living Cereal Hi-Lo Maple Pecan
What better way to start your day than a healthy bowl of maple pecan flavored cereal? You can find all the nutrition you need to start your day right in a bowl of Nutritious Living Hi-Lo Maple Pecan Cereal, with high fiber, high protein, and low carbohydrates. The 7.4 grams of protein per serving come from soy, a complete protein. If you happen to be allergic to soy, try our fifth place pick, the ProGranola 12g Protein Cereal.
This cereal is not made with artificial colors, preservatives, or animal byproducts, making it an excellent option for vegans who need a high protein boost in the morning. At only 90 calories, this breakfast cereal is diet-friendly. Diabetics can also give this cereal a try, because the grains and soy protein used in this cereal ensure steady blood glucose levels. There are 7 grams of dietary fiber packed into one serving.
Sounds all good, right? So where’s the down side? This cereal uses sucralose, an artificial sweetener, to make your taste buds tingle. While it may be a deal breaker for some, others may not find it to be a problem. You can purchase this cereal in four flavors, including maple pecan, original, real strawberry pieces, and vanilla almond. Customers say they love the taste of this cereal, and some have been eating it for years.
- Modest protein
- Low carbs and calories
- Good source of fiber
- Contains artificial sweeteners
BariWise Protein Diet Coco O’s Cereal
If you need your daily chocolate fix (and who doesn’t?), BariWise Coco O’s Cereal is the healthy cereal for you. This cereal is made with real cocoa powder for authentic flavor, not the artificial tasting cocoa flavor found in other breakfast cereals. Each box of this cereal contains five individual packets to help you know the exact amount of ingredients in each serving.
Before we get into the logistics of this cereal, we should mention that it is pricey. With five packs in each box at about $15 per box, each bowl comes to around $3 each. The price may not be an issue to get a high protein, low carbohydrate, low fat, and decent fiber breakfast. Made with soy protein, this cereal contains 15 grams of protein per serving and 4 grams of fiber.
With only 8 grams of total carbohydrates, this is a keto diet-friendly breakfast or snack. There is less than 1 gram of saturated fat and no cholesterol, but there are 141 milligrams of sodium that individuals with hypertension exacerbated by sodium intake should take into consideration. Like our ninth best healthy cereal, this cereal doesn’t rank higher because of added sucralose (Splenda). There are also natural and artificial flavors added to this cereal, that may discourage some health-conscious buyers.
- High protein and decent fiber
- Low carbs and calories
- Uses artificial sweeteners
- Contains artificial flavors
What kind of milk should I have with my cereal?
It depends. There are many milk and milk substitute options on the market, including almond, hemp, soy, and more. Many people are lactose intolerant, meaning they have gas, bloating, and other symptoms when they eat or drink dairy products.
Children may not have problems drinking milk because as we age, the enzyme that breaks down dairy (lactase) in our intestines typically declines. Your doctor can order a food allergy test to identify to which foods, including dairy, you may have sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies. A cheaper way to check your reaction to dairy is to try switching to almond, hemp, or soy milk and see if you feel differently.
Often adults tend to feel better drinking dairy substitutes, and many dairy substitutes are healthy for you. Unsweetened almond milk has fewer calories, total carbohydrates, and sugars than even skim milk. The downside is that almond milk contains significantly less protein than dairy, but if you eat a high protein cereal, it becomes irrelevant.
Are healthy cereals more expensive than other types of cereals?
Yes, generally healthy breakfast cereals are more expensive than other cereals, for two reasons: One, it costs more to produce and sell high-quality ingredients. And two, customers are willing to pay more for healthy breakfast cereals.
GMOs, artificial sweeteners, and other additives are cheaper to produce and use in cereals than grains and organically grown foods. Nuts and seeds are also more expensive to produce than grains, which are found in many unhealthy cereals. The exception is sprouted grain, which requires a more labor-intensive process to grow.
Are grains, nuts, or soy better for breakfast?
It depends. All of these foods have benefits, and one may be better for one person over another. Whether you should eat cereal composed mostly of grains, nuts, or soy comes down to two questions to ask yourself: What are your goals for breakfast? How do you feel after eating each of these foods?
How you feel after eating each of these foods is a good indicator of if you have sensitivities and intolerances to them. Gluten intolerance is common along with soy and specific nut intolerances and allergies. The only ways to tell if you have one are to get a formal allergy test, or see how you feel when you cut each one of these ingredients from your diet.
If intolerances are not an issue for you, the next question is, what are your goals? Are you just trying to kick-start your metabolism to meet the challenges of the day? Or are you trying to shed a few extra pounds? Nuts provide a lot of energy that is released steadily throughout the morning, while soy is high in protein and may help you lose weight.