How To Pick A Healthy Cereal That’s Actually Good For You

Don't be dazzled by flashy packaging and dubious claims. Follow this guide to the big boasts and fine print and nab yourself a healthy cereal.

Rachel Meltzer Warren |

Cereal gets a bad rap – and most of the time, it’s for good reason. Those brightly coloured boxes emboldened with “100% whole grain” and “heart healthy” can be seriously misleading if you don’t take the time to read the label. Plus, when you have an entire aisle of options, the healthy cereal picks are usually overshadowed by chocolatey, peanut buttery goodness.

Related: 4 Simple Heart-Healthy, Fibre-Rich Breakfast Bowls

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Made from a blend of rice and buckwheat makes this cereal a naturally wholesome alternative.

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But that doesn’t mean cereal can’t be the breakfast of champions. You just have to know how to choose the right healthy cereal. Here are four things to keep in mind next time you’re tempted by that box of Coco Pops:

1. Skip “Made With Whole Grain”

This phrase is as empty as a bagel hole. Some brands bear this claim, but the cereal’s first ingredient is sugar. “Anytime you see a claim on the front of the box, check the ingredients on the back,” says Phil Lempert of Supermarket Guru. Something like “whole grain wheat” should occupy that first spot.

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2. Beware Of Stealth Sugars

Sucrose, fructose, rice syrup – it’s all sweet stuff. Stay under 10 grams of sugar per serving, says Registered Dietician Valerie Berkowitz, of the Centre for Balanced Health. Don’t be seduced by branding. Even granola can sometimes have as much sugar as Rice Krispies or Coco Pops. It is always better to go with homemade granola.

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This luxury cereal from Health Connection is made with cacao nibs and powdered cacao, giving it a rich chocolaty flavour – with none of the bad stuff found in ordinary processed chocolate.

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3. Fill Your Bowl With Fibre

Aim for at least 5 grams of fibre per serving, Berkowitz says. To stay full until lunch, add a minimum of 30 grams of protein to your cereal: Stir in Greek yogurt (17 grams of protein per 30 grams, versus 8 grams in a cup of milk), protein powder (10 grams in 2 tablespoons), and almonds (8 grams in 1/4 cup).

Related: This Breakfast Will Make Your Brain Function Faster

4. Don’t Fall For Fruit

Surprise: Having the word “strawberry” in the title may not mean there are actual strawberries. Even most cereals with freeze-dried berries or raisins don’t have enough of them to equal a serving. Eat real fruit. A delicious way: top your bowl with kiwis, peaches, green apples, pomegranate seeds, or figs.

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