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 and can be a tasty and healthy part of any grown-up's morning meal. 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 look at the ingredients list. Whole grains or oats should be at the top of the ingredients lists. 

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 of brands that a grown-up could love. Take a closer look at the nutrition of seven major brand-name ​cereals (Post, Kellog's, and General Mills) that are actually good for adults:

Nutrition Facts

Shredded wheat is the simplest of all the cereals. It's nothing but wheat and a little bit of BHT as a preservative. It has no sodium and no sugar and one cup of Shredded Wheat has 6 grams fiber and 6 grams protein, which makes it the top choice here. Calorie-wise it was about in the middle of the pack, with 172 calories.

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one serving (50g) of Post Shredded Wheat.

  • Calories: 172
  • Fat: 1g
  • Sodium: 1mg
  • Carbohydrates: 40g
  • 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 has 28 grams of fiber. The original Fiber One has 0.6g of sugar and 4 grams of protein. It's on the lower end of calories, too, with 124 per one cup. Its first two ingredients are whole grain wheat and corn bran. It's not the lowest in sodium, with 214 milligrams per cup. But it's not high in sodium either.

Most people need more fiber but be careful if you want to switch to this brand from a lower-fiber cereal. You ought to start with half a cup (that's the serving size on the box) and work your way up. That's because your digestive tract may need a little time to get used to the extra fiber.

General Mills Cheerios

One cup of Cheerios (the original) has only 1.2 grams of sugar, 2.6 grams of fiber, 3.4 grams of protein, and only 105 calories. The first ingredient is whole grain oats and cornstarch. It also has 139 milligrams sodium per one-cup serving, so it's excellent for a low-sodium diet.

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's big thing is that it's 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.

Total is good because it has 3.6 grams of fiber, about 3.4 grams protein, and 128 calories. That's pretty good sodium-wise, with 188 milligrams. It has a bit more sugar than other brands, and is listed as the second ingredient, after whole wheat, and has about 6.6 grams of sugar per cup of dry cereal. 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. But even though it's sweet, the first two ingredients are corn and whole grain wheat (you'd be surprised how many cereals have sugar listed second).

It does have a little more sugar than the others, with 8.6 grams per one cup of dry cereal, so it's not a good idea to add any more sugar to a bowl. But it has 2.4 grams of fiber and 3.3 grams of protein. One cup has about 176 calories and 179 milligrams sodium, which isn't bad.

General Mills Wheaties

Wheaties aren't really a sweet cereal, but they do have a little sugar added. Still, with 127 calories, 264 milligrams sodium, 5.5 grams sugar, 3.6 grams fiber, and 3 grams protein, it's a solid choice for a healthy breakfast. The first two ingredients are whole grain wheat and sugar.

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. One cup has 115 calories, 223 milligrams sodium, 3.4 grams sugar, 1.5 grams fiber, and 2 grams protein. The first two ingredients are whole grain corn and cornmeal.

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, I think it should be served with a big helping of fresh fruit.

Cereals That Didn't Make the Top Seven

These brands aren't really bad for you but they didn't make the list of the healthiest adult breakfast cereals. 

General Mills Golden Grahams

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 150 calories
  • 309 milligrams sodium
  • 14 grams sugar
  • 2.2 grams fiber
  • 2.1 grams protein

First two ingredients: whole grain wheat, corn meal.

Note: Too much sugar and a lot of sodium for a breakfast cereal. Fiber and protein are good, though.

General Mills Basic 4

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 197 calories
  • 278 milligrams sodium
  • 12.4 grams sugar
  • 5 grams fiber
  • 3.7 grams protein

First two ingredients: whole grain wheat, cornmeal

Note: Another cereal with too much sugar. Too bad, because it's got enough protein and fiber to make me happy.

Kellogg's Raisin Bran

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 190 calories
  • 200 milligrams sodium
  • 17 grams sugar
  • 7 grams fiber
  • 5 grams protein

First two ingredients: whole grain wheat, raisins

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

Kellogg's Special K

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 117 calories
  • 207 milligrams sodium
  • 3.9 grams sugar
  • 0.4 grams fiber
  • 5.5 grams protein

First two ingredients: rice, wheat gluten

Note: Plenty of protein and low in calories, but the lack of fiber is disappointing.

Kellogg's Cracklin' Oat Bran

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 288 calories
  • 204 milligrams sodium
  • 20.4 grams sugar
  • 9.3 grams fiber
  • 6.7 grams protein

First two ingredients: whole grain oats, sugar

Note: On the positive side it's not high in sodium and has plenty of fiber and protein. One downside is that it has too much sugar and this is the one cereal that has a lot of fat, with about 9 grams.

Post Grape Nuts

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 419 calories
  • 539 milligrams sodium
  • 10.3 grams sugar
  • 15.1 grams fiber
  • 13 grams protein

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

Note: Lots of calories for a breakfast cereal and too much sodium. But it's high in fiber and protein.

Post Raisin Bran

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 191 calories
  • 225 milligrams sodium
  • 19.4 grams sugar
  • 8.1 grams fiber
  • 4.9 grams protein

First two ingredients: whole grain wheat, raisins

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

Cereals That Aren't So Good

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. Like these:

Kellogg's Rice Krispies

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 99 calories
  • 137 milligrams sodium
  • 2.6 grams sugar
  • 0.1 grams fiber
  • 1.8 gram protein

First two ingredients: rice, sugar

Note: This one isn't the worst cereal, but it's fairly disappointing. 

Post Fruity Pebbles

Nutrition Information per cup:

  • 161 calories
  • 212 milligrams sodium
  • 13.7 grams sugar
  • 0.3 grams fiber
  • 1.9 grams protein

First two ingredients: rice, sugar

Note: These are basically colorful rice crispies.

Kellogg's Froot Loops

Nutrition information per cup:

  • 109 calories
  • 136 milligrams sodium
  • 12.1 grams sugar
  • 2.7 grams fiber
  • 1.5 grams protein

First two ingredients: sugar, corn flour blend

Note: Maybe a childhood favorite but not a great 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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Article Sources
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