The array of choices in the cereal aisle is mind-numbing; there are now 13 varieties of Cheerios alone. After a certain point, more choices mean more confusion.
The best cereals are 100% whole grain with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving, but fiber content varies from 1 to 10 grams per serving.
The consumer’s best strategy to get the most nutrition for his $$ is to read the labels.
Buy cereals that are 100% whole grain or have a whole grain listed first in the ingredients.
Look for cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
Avoid cereals with added dried fruit, such as raisins and cranberries, because the fruit is often sugar-coated. Buy a plain cereal and add your own dried or fresh fruit at home.
Limit sugar to 8 grams per serving; 4 or 5 grams is preferable. Some brands of granola and granola bars have a lot of added sugar.
Look for cereals with less than 180 milligrams of sodium per serving. Some cereals’ sodium content is as high as 400 milligrams.
Though most cereals are low in fat, check out the fat content. Some cereals contain unhealthy saturated and trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils. Exception: if the fat content comes from nuts, not to worry. It’s good fat.
Muesli (uncooked rolled oats and sometimes other grains, with dried fruit, nuts, and seeds) is usually a good cereal option, though it can be high in calories.
Sources: University of CA, Berkeley Special Summer Issue, Wellness Letter, 2013