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. 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 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 139 milligrams sodium per one-cup serving, it's excellent for a low-sodium diet. A one cup serving (28g) contains:

  • Calories: 104
  • Fat: 1.9g
  • Sodium: 139mg
  • Carbohydrates: 20.5g
  • Fiber: 2.8g
  • Sugars: 1.3g
  • Protein: 3.5g

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. A one cup serving contains:

  • Calories: 97.2
  • Fat: 0.7g
  • Sodium: 191.7mg
  • Carbohydrates: 22.5g
  • Fiber: 2.7g
  • Sugars: 4.7g
  • Protein: 2.7g

Total has a bit more sugar than other brands, which 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 hey, not everyone wants something that tastes like cardboard every morning. And even though it's sweet, the first two ingredients are corn and whole grain wheat. A one cup (43g) serving contains:

  • Calories: 176
  • Fat: 3.1g
  • Sodium: 179mg
  • Carbohydrates: 34.2g
  • Fiber: 2.4g
  • Sugars: 8.6g
  • Protein: 3.3g

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 aren't really a sweet cereal, but they do have sugar added (it's actually the second ingredient on the list). Still, it can be a solid choice for a healthy breakfast since the first ingredient is whole grain wheat. 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. Maybe some whole grain toast and nut butter 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? A one cup (31g) serving contains:

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

Since it's 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.

Healthy Cereals That Didn't Make the Top Seven

These next few brands aren't really bad for you, 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

Nutrition information per cup (40g):

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

Note: This one has a lot of sugar and sodium for a breakfast cereal. The fiber and protein are good, though.

General Mills Basic 4

First two ingredients: whole grain wheat and cornmeal

Nutrition information per cup (55g):

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

Note: This is another cereal with a lot of sugar but a decent amount of protein and fiber.

Kellogg's Raisin Bran

First two ingredients: whole grain wheat and raisins

Nutrition information per cup (61g):

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

Note: Raisin Bran is high in sugar, but much of that is probably coming from the raisins, which isn't all bad. It also has plenty of fiber and a good amount of protein.

Kellogg's Special K

First two ingredients: rice and wheat gluten

Nutrition information per cup (31g):

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

Note: Special K has plenty of protein and is low in calories, but it does lack fiber.

Kellogg's Cracklin' Oat Bran

First two ingredients: whole grain oats and sugar

Nutrition information per cup (73g):

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

Note: 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 the one cereal that is higher in fat.

Post Grape Nuts

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

Nutrition information per cup (116g):

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

Note: Grape Nuts has high calories and sodium for a breakfast cereal. But it's also high in fiber and protein.

Post Raisin Bran

First two ingredients: whole grain wheat and raisins

Nutrition information per cup (59g):

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

Note: Here's another case where the extra sugar might be coming from the raisins. It does have plenty of fiber and protein though.

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

Nutrition information per cup (26g):

  • Calories: 99.1
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 137mg
  • Carbohydrates: 22.1g
  • Fiber: 0.1g
  • Sugars: 2.6g
  • Protein: 1.8g

Note: This one isn't the worst cereal, but it's low in nutritional value. 

Post Fruity Pebbles

First two ingredients: rice and sugar

Nutrition Information per cup (40g):

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

Note: These are basically colorful rice crispies.

Kellogg's Froot Loops

First two ingredients: sugar and corn flour blend

Nutrition information per cup:

  • Calories: 118
  • Fat: 1.1g
  • Sodium: 0.0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 28g
  • Fiber: 3.2g
  • Sugars: 12.9g
  • Protein: 1.1g

Note: This one may be a childhood favorite, but is not the healthiest choice.

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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