The 7 Best Healthy Cereals of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Start your day off right with the best bowl possible

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Don't skip breakfast (there are nutritional implications for adults too!). Rather, if you must reduce breakfast calories, do so in a healthy, filling way. Cereal has been dubbed “breakfast of champions” for years, but some cereals are loaded with sugar and additives that will leave you hungry within minutes. Fill your bowl smartly by choosing a healthier option with whole grains and fiber. In fact, research shows that consumption of whole-grain, high-fiber breakfast cereal is associated with a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Not to mention, it gets your metabolism revved up. With cereal, portion size is key. No matter what time of day you enjoy, be sure to take a look at the recommended serving size on the box and consider using a measuring cup to serve the right portion for you. Pair your cereal with organic milk (dairy, nut, or seed) or yogurt for an extra protein punch.

Here, the best healthy cereals (don't forget the full fat or oat milk or grab your nut milk maker quickly!):

Best Overall: Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Grain Cereal

With no sugar, 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per half-cup serving, Food For Like Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Grain Cereal is the best option on the market. It’s made with sprouted whole grains, which have less starch and are easier to digest than regular grains.

Sprouting grains may also break down phytic acid which decreases the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body, so sprouted grains may have more available nutrients Made with barley, lentils, soybeans, spelt, wheat and millet, this non-GMO and organic cereal is a high-fiber, protein-packed option that will keep digestion on track and fill you up for hours.

Best High-Protein: Kashi Go Lean Breakfast Cereal

Kashi GoLean® Original Breakfast Cereal - 13.1oz

Another great option for anyone looking to stay full after breakfast is Kashi GOLEAN original cereal. With 12 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber, this cereal will keep you feeling full all morning long. It’s a lightly sweetened mix of crunchy fiber twigs, crispy soy protein Grahams, and honey-toasted seven whole grains and sesame puffs.

Best Instant Oatmeal: Quaker Quick 1-Minute Oatmeal

This tried-and-true cereal is still a healthy and convenient favorite, especially for a quick, hot breakfast on cold winter mornings. Fans of Quaker Instant Oatmeal love its perfect consistency and great flavor. Made from only 100 percent natural and whole grain oats, it’s just 100 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving. You can add your favorite toppings such as cinnamon, nuts, or dried fruit for more flavor—or to make a heartier meal out of it.

Best Budget: Barbara's Puffins Original Cereal

Barbara's Original Puffins Cereal

Barbara's Bakery Puffins Cereal in the original flavor offers lots of fiber, all packed into deliciously crunchy puffs. The Non-GMO Project Verified Puffins cereal only has 6 grams of sugar. It also contains 3 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. What's more, Barbara’s is committed to making positive contributions to the world with donations to nonprofit organizations, including the National Audubon Society’s Project Puffin.

If you want a more flavored option, Barbara's also makes this puffed cereal in cinnamon and honey rice flavors.

Best Gluten-Free: Nature's Path Qi'a Superfood Topper with Chia, Buckwheat + Hemp

This cereal is chock full of superfood ingredients like chia seeds, buckwheat, and hemp, making it an ultra-healthy option as far as cereals go. if you have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease and can't eat gluten, this Nature's Path cereal is a great gluten-free option.

It is also vegan and kosher so it meets a variety of lifestyles and dietary restrictions. Reviewers say this cereal makes them feel full and satiated after they eat it, without giving off the sluggish effect other cereals do. Pour out the cereal and pour in the milk with zero worries.

Best for Kids: Cascadian Farm Organic Purely O's Cereal

When promoting a kid-friendly cereal, consider a whole grain organic cereal, such as Cascadian Farm Organic's Purely O's. Not only are they crunchy to chew and great by themselves or with your milk of choice they also have only 1 gram of sugar and 4 grams of fiber.

Best Granola: 18 Rabbits Organic Gracious Granola

While granola may seem like a healthy cereal option, you should choose carefully because many varieties are high in fat and sugar and it’s easy to go overboard. Unlike many other granola cereals, 18 Rabbits’ ingredient list is very short and full of ingredients that you can easily pronounce. It’s also not packed with lots of added sugar or processed fillers.

This organic cereal is made of whole rolled oats, coconut, maple syrup, and sunflower oil, along with other nutritious items such as chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and hazelnuts, depending on the variety. Although it only contains just 3 grams of sugar per serving, it will delight your taste buds whether you eat it plain, on top of yogurt, with fruit.

Final Verdict

If you're looking for a fiber and protein-packed cereal, try Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Grain Cereal (view at Amazon).

What to Look for in a Healthy Cereal

Whole Grains:

When choosing a cereal, check the label to ensure that whole grains are among the first three ingredients, if not the first ingredient. Look at the ingredients list for the words "whole wheat" or "whole grain."


Pick a product with low or no added sugar (up to 5 grams of sugar per serving, but the lower the better). 

Fiber and Protein:

Fiber and protein will help to add lasting energy, so look for at least 3 to 5 grams of fiber and protein per serving.


Many kinds of cereal have no added fats, however, some that contain nuts may naturally be higher in fat. Avoid any cereals with trans fat.

Other Ingredients to Note:

Avoid cereals that use artificial colors or flavorings. You can use fresh fruit, dried fruits, or spices to flavor and naturally sweeten your cereal.

What Experts Say

"When choosing a breakfast cereal, look for 5 and 5—at least 5 grams of fiber and less than 5 grams of added sugar per serving. To stay full all morning long, pair cereal with a significant protein source, like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese instead of milk."Chelsey Amer, MS, RDN

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

A personal note on my recommendations written above. As a dietitian, I am cautious to recommend cereal as part of a healthy breakfast, as many breakfast cereals contain lots of added sugar. That said, there are many great options on the market, such as the products above. In writing this article, I spent time looking at current clinical research on breakfast cereal. I also looked at multiple products and brands and consulted with trusted peers in dietetics.

I believe the products in the round-up are made by trusted brands and are composed of high-quality ingredients. I would recommend the above products to friends, family, and clients, and have personally tried all of the products. You can currently find Barbara's Puffins and Cascadian Farm Organic Purely O's in my pantry. Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

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