Major Name Brand Grown-Up Cereals That Are Good for You

group of cereals in bowls

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Breakfast cereal isn't just for kids. It can also be a tasty and healthy part of any grown-up's morning meal. What type of cereal falls into this category?

Look for brands that are lower in sugar, sodium, and fat, but higher in fiber and protein. Calorie counts are important too. It's also a good idea to check out the ingredients list. Whole grains or oats should be at the top. 

There are a lot of brands and varieties of breakfast cereals on the grocery store shelves. Many of them are marketed to kids, but there are plenty that a grown-up could love too. Here are seven major brand-name ​cereals (Post, Kellogg's, and General Mills) that are actually good for adults.

Post Shredded Wheat

Shredded wheat is the simplest of all the cereals. It's nothing but wheat and a little bit of BHT as a preservative so it retains its freshness longer. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one serving (50g):

  • Calories: 172
  • Fat: 1g
  • Sodium: 1mg
  • Carbohydrates: 40.1g
  • Fiber: 6.2g
  • Sugars: 0.5g
  • Protein: 5.8g

Serve Shredded Wheat with some fresh berries and either cow's milk or fortified soy milk. Since it doesn't have any added sugar, you could add a teaspoon of sugar and still be under 5 grams per serving.

General Mills Fiber One

Breakfast time is good for getting more fiber and one cup of Fiber One cereal delivers in this regard. Its first two ingredients are whole grain wheat and corn bran and, while it's not the lowest in sodium, it's not the highest either. Per the USDA, a one-cup serving contains:

  • Calories: 124
  • Fat: 1.4g
  • Sodium: 214mg
  • Carbohydrates: 50.6g
  • Fiber: 27.7g
  • Sugars: 0.6g
  • Protein: 4g

Most people need more fiber in their diets, but be careful if you switch from a lower-fiber cereal. Your digestive tract may need a little time to get used to the increased fiber intake.

General Mills Cheerios

The first ingredient in General Mills Cheerios is whole grain oats and cornstarch. Since it has 136 milligrams sodium per one-cup serving, it's excellent for a low-sodium diet. A one cup serving (28g; data provided by the USDA) contains:

  • Calories: 101
  • Fat: 1.7g
  • Sodium: 136mg
  • Carbohydrates: 20.7g
  • Fiber: 2.8g
  • Sugars: 1.4g
  • Protein: 3.6g

Serve Cheerios with your favorite type of milk and some sliced fruit or berries. It's another cereal that leaves room for a spoonful of sugar if you like a sweeter flavor.

General Mills Total

Total is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Of course, all these cereals are fortified with some amount of micronutrients, but Total contains 100% of many of them. That's good, but it's important to continue to eat plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables the rest of the day. The following nutrition data is provided by the USDA for a one-cup (40g) serving:

  • Calories: 140
  • Fat: 0.8g
  • Sodium: 190mg
  • Carbohydrates: 32.8g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugars: 6g
  • Protein: 3.2g

Total has a bit more sugar than other brands. It is listed as the second ingredient, after whole wheat. But it's fine as long as you don't add more sugar. Add berries and fruit for extra sweetness instead.

Post Honey Bunches of Oats With Almonds

This one might be a surprise because it's one of the sweeter cereals. But even though it's sweet, the first two ingredients are corn and whole grain wheat. The USDA reports that a one cup (42g) serving contains:

  • Calories: 170
  • Fat: 3g
  • Sodium: 180mg
  • Carbohydrates: 34g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugars: 9g
  • Protein: 3g

This one does have a little more sugar than the others, so it's not a good idea to add any more sugar to a bowl. But it does have a decent amount of fiber and protein while also not being too high in calories or sodium, so it isn't too bad.

General Mills Wheaties

Wheaties isn't really a sweet cereal, but it does have sugar added (it's actually the second ingredient on the list). Still, Wheaties can be a solid choice for a healthy breakfast since the first ingredient is whole grain wheat. According to the USDA, a one cup (36g) serving contains:

  • Calories: 127
  • Fat: 0.8g
  • Sodium: 264mg
  • Carbohydrates: 30g
  • Fiber: 3.6g
  • Sugars: 5.5g
  • Protein: 3g

Wheaties is good when it's topped with fruit or berries, along with your favorite type of milk. Try some whole grain toast and nut butter, or an egg, on the side.

General Mills Corn Chex

Corn Chex is another rather plain cereal, but it's low in calories and sugar, so it makes the top seven. How does it compare to all of the other breakfast cereals already listed? The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for a one cup (31g) serving:

  • Calories: 115
  • Fat: 0.7g
  • Sodium: 223mg
  • Carbohydrates: 26.4g
  • Fiber: 1.5g
  • Sugars: 3.4g
  • Protein: 2g

Since Corn Chex is low in sugar, you could add a little bit of regular sugar. But since it's on the low side as far as fiber content, serving it with a big helping of fresh fruit can help increase your fiber intake.

More Healthy Cereal Choices

These next few options are still nutritious choices. They just didn't quite make the list of the healthiest breakfast cereals

General Mills Golden Grahams

First two ingredients: Whole grain wheat and corn meal

This cereal has a lot of sugar and sodium. But it also offers fiber and protein. Nutrition information per cup (40g):

  • Calories: 150
  • Fat: 1.3g
  • Sodium: 309mg
  • Carbohydrates: 34g
  • Fiber: 2.2g
  • Sugars: 14g
  • Protein: 2.1g

General Mills Basic 4

First two ingredients: Whole grain wheat and cornmeal

This is another cereal with a lot of sugar but a decent amount of protein and fiber. Nutrition information per cup (55g):

  • Calories: 200
  • Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 280mg
  • Carbohydrates: 43g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Sugars: 12g
  • Protein: 4g

Kellogg's Raisin Bran

First two ingredients: Whole grain wheat and raisins

Raisin Bran is high in sugar, but much of that is probably naturally occurring in the raisins. It also has plenty of fiber and a good amount of protein. Nutrition information per cup (61g):

  • Calories: 194
  • Fat: 1.7g
  • Sodium: 217mg
  • Carbohydrates: 47.1g
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Sugars: 19.1g
  • Protein: 4.7g

Kellogg's Special K

First two ingredients: Rice and wheat gluten

Special K has plenty of protein and is low in calories, but it does lack fiber. Nutrition information per cup (31g):

  • Calories: 117
  • Fat: 0.6g
  • Sodium: 207mg
  • Carbohydrates: 22.8g
  • Fiber: 0.4g
  • Sugars: 3.9g
  • Protein: 5.5g

Kellogg's Cracklin' Oat Bran

First two ingredients: Whole grain oats and sugar

On the positive side, this breakfast cereal isn't too high in sodium and has plenty of fiber and protein. One downside is that it has a lot of sugar and is significantly higher in fat than others on this list. Nutrition information per cup (73g):

  • Calories: 288
  • Fat: 10.3g
  • Sodium: 204mg
  • Carbohydrates: 51.3g
  • Fiber: 9.3g
  • Sugars: 20.4g
  • Protein: 6.7g

Post Grape Nuts

First two ingredients: Whole grain wheat flour and malted barley flour

Grape Nuts has high calories and sodium for a breakfast cereal. But it's also high i fiber and protein. Nutrition information per cup (116g):

  • Calories: 419
  • Fat: 2.1g
  • Sodium: 539mg
  • Carbohydrates: 93.4g
  • Fiber: 15.1g
  • Sugars: 10.3g
  • Protein: 13g

Post Raisin Bran

First two ingredients: Whole grain wheat and raisins

Here's another case where the extra sugar might be coming from the raisins. This cereal does have plenty of fiber and protein. Nutrition information per cup (59g):

  • Calories: 191
  • Fat: 0.9g
  • Sodium: 225mg
  • Carbohydrates: 46.6g
  • Fiber: 8.1g
  • Sugars: 19.4g
  • Protein: 4.5g

Cereals That Aren't As Healthy

So what does a breakfast cereal that's not so good for you look like? These cereals are lacking in whole grains, so there's little or no fiber. And some have a lot of sugar.

Kellogg's Rice Krispies

First two ingredients: Rice and sugar

Many other cereals have a lot more sugar, but this one is overall low in nutritional value. Nutrition information per cup (26g):

  • Calories: 99
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 137mg
  • Carbohydrates: 22.1g
  • Fiber: 0.1g
  • Sugars: 2.6g
  • Protein: 1.8g

Post Fruity Pebbles

First two ingredients: Rice and sugar

These are basically colorful rice crispies (with more sugar—and no fruit, despite the name). Nutrition Information per cup (40g):

  • Calories: 161
  • Fat: 1.6g
  • Sodium: 212mg
  • Carbohydrates: 34.4g
  • Fiber: 0.3g
  • Sugars: 13.7g
  • Protein: 1.9g

Kellogg's Froot Loops

First two ingredients: Sugar and corn flour blend

This cereal may be a childhood favorite, but it is not the healthiest choice. Nutrition information per cup (29g):

  • Calories: 109
  • Fat: 1g
  • Sodium: 136mg
  • Carbohydrates: 25.5g
  • Fiber: 2.7g
  • Sugars: 10g
  • Protein: 1.5g

A Word from Verywell

Eating cereal for breakfast is a great idea because it's easy to prepare. You can eat a quick meal and get out the door to start your busy day. Choose cereals made with whole grains without excess sugar and dress them up with fresh fruits and berries for extra health benefits.

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Article Sources
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