The most healthful cereals are made with whole grains and not much else. If you’re trying to lose weight, control cholesterol or diabetes, or just need a lot of energy, your best bet is a hot cooked cereal of whole grains, such as oatmeal; or barley, brown rice or wheat berries cooked and served like oatmeal. Flavor it with raisins or other dried fruits, cinnamon, and perhaps a handful of nuts such as pinenuts.

If you prefer cold cereal, you need to check the list of ingredients carefully. The FIRST ingredient should be a whole grain. The most healthful dry cereals have only this one ingredient (such as shredded wheat).  That way you can choose to add whatever other healthful ingredients you want, such as nuts or fruit.

Check the list of ingredients for ADDED sugars (you want little or none).  Raisins or other dried fruits will add a lot of grams of sugar to the listing on the nutrition panel; they are not distinguished from added sugars, so you can only estimate the amounts. Read the list of ingredients instead.

The fiber content listed on the nutrition label can be confusing because it’s based on serving size, and very light cereals (such as puffed wheat) show little fiber per serving, but an acceptable amount when you adjust for weight. Cereals made from bran (the outer covering removed from whole grains) will have higher fiber content than cereals made from whole grains (which have the germ and starchy parts of the grains as well as the fiber), but they can be hard to digest.  Watch for added PROCESSED fiber, such as “chicory root fiber”, which may be snuck into the list of ingredients to make the fiber count higher.  These added fibers may be unhealthful; see my report on Soluble Fiber Added to Processed Foods May Harm You

Update on Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Trans Fats):I’m delighted to report that partially hydrogenated oils have been taken out of our food supply. My original list included 56 brands with PHO’s; my most recent check found none! The disappearance of PHO’s from cereal shelves shows that consumer pressue CAN make a difference — even though the process took many years!

Is it really whole grain? Manufacturers have also responded to the call for more whole grains in our diet, so you will find a lot more choices that meet my recommendation of “whole grains as the first ingredient”. However, many that claim to be “whole grain” still include refined grains. You may need to do some detective work to see what you’re getting. One-ingredient whole grain cereals (i.e., shredded wheat, puffed wheat, oatmeal) are sure bets. If you see milled corn, corn meal, wheat flour or rice in the list of ingredients, you’re getting a mixture of whole and refined grains.

Note: The list below includes only major national brand cereals. Many minor brands and store brands meet the guidelines listed above; read the labels and add your own favorites to the “recommended” list.

Recommended: Cereals made with all or mostly Whole Grains
(Little or no added sugars; but check the list of ingredients — recipes can change.)

Cheerios – General Mills
Chex, Wheat or Multi Grain – General Mills
Grape Nuts – Post
Grape Nut Flakes – Post
Great Grains, all varieties – Post
Healthy Choice Mueslix – Kelloggs
Healthy Choice Almond Crunch with Raisins – Kelloggs
Healthy Choice Low Fat Granola – Kelloggs
Healthy Choice Toasted Brown Sugar Squares – Kelloggs
Kashi (all varieties) – Kashi Company
Life – Quaker
Mini-Wheats, all varieties – Kelloggs
Muesli – Familia
Nutri-Grain, all varieties – Kelloggs
Oatmeal Crisp, all varieties – General Mills
Oatmeal Squares – Quaker
Organic Healthy Fiber Multigrain Flakes – Health Valley
Puffed Wheat – Quaker and others
Shredded Wheat, all varieties and sizes – Post and others
Smart Start – Kelloggs
South Beach Diet Toasted Wheats
Total – General Mills
Uncle Sam – U.S. Mills
Wheaties – General Mills
Barbara’s, Cascadian Farm, Mother’s, Nature’s Promise and other smaller brands that specialize in “healthful” cereals (but always check the list of ingredients).

Recommended: All Bran or High Bran Cereals
(Little or no added sugars. )

100% Bran – Post
All Bran, all varieties – Kelloggs
Bran Flakes – Post
Chex, Multi-Bran – General Mills
Complete Wheat Bran Flakes – Kelloggs
Complete Oat Bran Flakes – Kelloggs
Cracklin’ Oat Bran – Kelloggs
Crunchy Corn Bran – Quaker
Fiber 7 Flakes – Health Valley
Fiber One – General Mills
Fruit & Bran – Post
Granola, Low Fat – Kelloggs
Oat Bran – Quaker
Oat Bran Flakes – Health Valley
Oat Bran Flakes with Raisins – Health Valley
Organic Bran with Raisins – Health Valley
Raisin Bran – Kelloggs
Raisin Bran Flakes – Health Valley
Raisin Bran, Whole Grain Wheat – Post
Raisin Nut Bran – General Mills
Shredded Wheat ‘n’ Bran – Post
Total, Raisin Bran – General Mills
Weight Watchers Flakes ‘n’ Fiber
100% Natural Granola – Quaker

Not Recommended – Cereals Made from Refined Grains

Many of these also contain a lot of added sugar

Apple Jacks – Kelloggs
Cap’n Crunch, all varieties – Quaker
Chex, Rice or Corn – General Mills
Cocoa Frosted Flakes – Kelloggs
Cocoa Blasts – Quaker
Cocoa Pebbles – Post
Cocoa Puffs – General Mills
Cookie Crisp/Chocolate Chip – General Mills
Corn Pops – Kelloggs
Corn Flakes – Kelloggs and others
Count Chocula – General Mills
Crispix – Kelloggs
Frosted Flakes – Kelloggs
Fruity Pebbles – Post
Honey Bunches of Oats – Post
Honey Comb – Post
Honey Nut Clusters – General Mills
Kix – General Mills
Lucky Charms – General Mills
Product 19 – Kelloggs
Puffed Rice – Quaker
Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs – General Mills
Rice Krispies, all varieties – Kelloggs
Special K – Kelloggs
Total Corn Flakes – General Mills

Checked 12/3/19 — However, the list has not been updated recently. Brands, products and ingredient lists may have changed. Apply the selection criteria from the text at the top of this report to any new cereals you are considering.