Kashi “Natural” Cereals Examined

Kashi is a high end food brand, with an impressive number of cereals in its lineup. It was founded in 1984 in Southern California and acquired by Kellogg’s in 2000. The company advertises their products as “natural”, containing a blend of seven whole grains and sesame. There is a strong emphasis on high protein and fiber content.

So is Kashi a good start to the day? We decided to check out an exemplar – Kashi GoLean Crunch…

What you need to know:

Here’s the ingredient list:

Kashi Seven Whole Grains & Sesame Cereal: (Whole: Oats, Long Grain Brown Rice, Rye, Hard Red Winter Wheat, Triticale, Buckwheat, Barley, Sesame Seeds), Textured Soy Protein Concentrate, Evaporated Cane Juice, Brown Rice Syrup, Chicory Root Fiber (Inulin), Whole Grain Oats, Kashi Seven Whole Grains & Sesame Flour (Whole: Oats, Long Grain Brown Rice, Rye, Hard Red Winter Wheat, Triticale, Buckwheat, Barley, Sesame Seeds), Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Honey, Salt, Cinnamon, Mixed Tocopherols (Natural Vitamin E) for freshness.

The product is made with only natural ingredients. There is a good mix of seven whole grains. There are no “natural flavors” added, which is usually a sign of ingredients that were good enough to provide flavor on their own without having to resort to a “flavor lab”. Even the spoilage retardant used is vitamin E, not controversial BHT. There are no artificial coloring or trans fats either.

But having  ingredients that are all natural does not automatically make this an optimal breakfast choice.

At 190 calories per serving, this is high calorie count for cereal. It’s got 13 grams of sugar, 3 teaspoons worth, just like Froot Loops. That’s way too much.

The 8 grams of fiber (which for the uninitiated may cause bloating), are quite high. But not all of them are from the 7 whole grain blend. There’s “artificially” added fiber through inulin. While inulin is natural, it seems senseless to pump up a cereal already made with whole grains just to drive the fiber number sky high.

Same with protein – the addition of textured soy protein concentrate helps drive the protein count up to 9 grams, but it’s really not needed unless you are a body builder. Most Americans get much more protein in a day than they really need.

What to do at the supermarket:

While Kashi GoLean Crunch is not the best choice due to its high sugar count, the company does offer many other options that contain little or no added sugar, for example Kashi 7 Whole Grain Flakes with only 1 teaspoon of added sugar. We like that the company does not use artificial additives and works with whole grains, but  as you can see from the example above the term “natural” does not automatically translate to “healthy”.

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  • Judy

    The regular Kashi GoLean (not Crunch) is a better choice, IMO.

  • lisa

    I read recently that cereal became an indispensable part of breakfast because Kellogg made it that way through advertising, early in the 20th century. I always have Kashi Cinna-Raisin Crunch mixed with wheat chex for breakfast, simply because it’s my default setting. I don’t want eggs in the morning, and fruit doesn’t satisfy. If cereal for breakfast was the idea of someone trying to sell cereal, what do you recommend as a better choice?

    • Baronessa Kara Jean Marcovicci

      Try a cup of brown rice with half oz. chopped walnuts and a teaspoon of raisins mixed in. Top with 30z. of non-fat plain Greek yogurt. You have now died and gone to Heaven! (no wheat, no crap, no saturated fat, no refined sugars-just pure ecstacy)

  • http://muchcookingwithdogs.blogspot.com Mary P

    As a diabetic, I tend to stay away from most cereals because they make my blood sugar shoot way up. The only cereals I can eat without those adverse effects are fairly high fiber cereals like Fiber One or All Bran. Kashi also makes a couple of high fiber cereals. I think one is called Good Friends, but I don’t particularly like the taste – too bland, even when mixed in plain yogurt which is how I eat my cereal.

  • http://foodtrainers.blogspot.com Lauren Slayton

    I started reading this post with great fear after one of the comments on your blog last week about the dangers of puffed grains. I’m glad Kashi got the thumbs up here though crunch in most cereals almost always means a higher sugar count (can we not have crunch without sweet). I love your caution to increase fiber slowly especially if “unitiated”. Sure, natural doesn’t mean perfect but I’d stil take natural and a little sweet over completely processed and super sweet.
    Another subject worth addressing though is TVP and other processed soy (ew).

  • Beth

    I don’t know how much is too much, but that inulin has made me MISERABLE a couple of times. Now I know how to watch for it.

  • Jay

    I like to cook some steel-cut (Irish) oatmeal for breakfast. You can even cook a batch of it ahead of time and stick it in the fridge. The same can be done with rye or buckwheat. Combine them if you like. They can be found in bulk bins for cheap.

    Bob’s Red Mill has some great mixes that are completely natural and convenient, like the Muesli (which you can microwave if you so choose). Very good stuff. If you’re adventurous mix in some bran (oat or wheat) or wheat germ (great for extra protein and fiber). These are meant to be eaten hot.

    For cold cereals, I really love Kashi U with the currants. Currants are super awesome for the body and I love the tartness. I’ve not found any other cereal with this superfruit.

    Hard to get much better than this as far as cereals go.

  • Jason

    I like to cook some steel-cut (Irish) oatmeal for breakfast. You can even cook a batch of it ahead of time and stick it in the fridge. The same can be done with rye or buckwheat. Combine them if you like. They can be found in bulk bins for cheap.

    Bob’s Red Mill has some great mixes that are completely natural and convenient, like the Muesli (which you can microwave if you so choose). Very good stuff. If you’re adventurous mix in some bran (oat or wheat) or wheat germ (great for extra protein and fiber). These are meant to be eaten hot.

    For cold cereals, I really love Kashi U with the currants. Currants are super awesome for the body and I love the tartness. I’ve not found any other cereal with this superfruit.

    Hard to get much better than this as far as cereals go. I avoid cereal with any preservatives (like the ubiquitous BHT) in them, so almost all the big manufacturer’s products get crossed off my list.

  • Stacey

    I, too, as a dietitian, like this cereal, overall. I mix about 1/2 to 3/4 cup (roughly 100 -150 calories and 6.5 – 9g sugar…which, btw, we like to see less than 10g per serving for most foods) with a 1/2 c of Fiber One (60kcals). This decreases the amount of added sugar in my breakfast choice. Keep in mind, as far as being high calorie, these 200kcals last much longer than the 120kcals in a bowl of, say, Special K, to which people on “diets” often switch. I would need another bowl or 2 of that to feel satisfied!

  • Bob

    Kashi is now a big corp money making company whose product gives us less in the box for the same money. Add to that that what is in the box is a total lie and proof another FOX advertizer. I used to buy kashi and found the heart to heart cherios type cereal was great tasting and good in the head in the AM. I bought a box just to change from the Special Fiber Cereals. And traffic got real bad in the head. No movement. Not only did I notice the card board cereal now promoted as good for you but the company’s reaction to my emailing them sucked. I had to throw the box out and gave them the courtesy of an email. I got a response and was told there would be some goodies in the mail. OK people…One very big coupon for a box of cereal I don’t like anymore. Can you believe that. What are these corporate owners REPUBLICANS???

    • WTF

      LOL BOB, you’re my hero, and the voice of reason. Kashi in my opinion is nothing but expensive junk food hyped up to appease the cereal addicts who are killing themselves with grains, sugars, soy products, GMO’s, inulin, and unhealthy carbs and additives.

  • Trisha

    This article is really very confusing … the picture shows Kashi Go Lean Crunch Cereal but then just before the list of ingredients it calls it Kashi Seven Whole Grain & Sesame Cereal and then again under ‘What to do at the Supermarket’ it calls it the Go Lean Crunch??? I assume the article is meant to be about the Go Lean Crunch because I’m pretty sure the Seven Grain one does NOT have that much sugar! It’s a shame to misinform people in this way because the Seven Grain Cereal is a really, really good one … but I can definitely agree that the Go Lean Crunch is too sickly sweet, yuck!

  • Joel Lawhead

    So given the negatives The Fooducate iPhone App gives this cereal an “A-” with no better alternatives. What’s up with that?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/William-Henry-Miller/1244253063 William Henry Miller

      You missed the point of this article. OP said that it was a healthy cereal, but that it’s high calorie and high sugar. The point of the article was solely to point out that ‘natural’ doesn’t always equate to ‘healthy’

  • http://www.thin-and-sweet.com Andrea@Thin Thighs & Sweet Potato Fries

    I tried this cereal and came to many of the same conclusions; not a good choice for breakfast and the calorie content is waayy to high! I do like their 7-Whole Grain Puffs cereal though. It contains no sugar and comes in at only 70 calories per 1 cup. I will say it is extremely “light” and not very flavorful on its own, but I like to add almonds and dates to give it a flavor (and filling) boost! Thanks for this article! Very informative.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1715215893 Carrie Brendel

    They Sold out.. Screw them..

  • LP

    Poorly written article by someone who clearly is uneducated about health. Should have been written as an opinion.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Judy, I like the regular Kashi Go Lean. So much healthier. I like to eat it mixed with some with low-fat greek yogurt and mixed berries. Yum!

    I would also like to ask what is up with the textured soy protein? I feel like I get enough soy from the lower quality animal protein I eat when I can’t cook my meals (this is based on the info that animals are fed soy at feedlots, among other things).

  • http://www.theotherbigo.ca Lauren

    While Kashi cereals are high in sugar; they use ‘natural’ sugars (opposed to glucose fructose) like evaporated cane juice, honey & brown rice syrup. All these natural sugars contain valuble phytonutrients (nutrients from plants) vitamins & minerals. If you pay attention to the serving size and consume in moderation; natural sugar is considered a healthy choice.

  • GrandmaSD

    With a family predisposed to Type 2 diabetes onset after age 55yr and one that likes most of the Kashi products, this sugar and fiber [for the bloating!] content description really helps toward nutritional decisions. Kashi Go Lean Crunch is off my list in favor of Kashi and Kashi 7 Whole Grain. Thanks for the easy to comprehend message!

  • Anonymous

    I see the this cereal has inulin in it. I must avoid eating inulin- it causes horrific digestive problems for me. But the food companies are sneaking it into more and more ‘healthy’ foods- especially the little pots of yogurt, frozen yogurt, ‘health’ drinks, snack bars and other things. I have to read the labels like a hawk, and read them EVERY time, because sometimes they’ll ‘improve’ something I like to eat (like Polaner’s fruit spreads) with this adulterant. 

    Any more, I make a lot of my favorite foods- including yogurt- from scratch myself. Then I know I won’t be getting any rude surprises.

  • Jenny Eriksen

     Knowledge IS power or at least it is choice. I mix 10 kinds of Kashi and other natural cereals together in a kitchen garbage bag and store in glass jars. My husband eats this cereal 5 days a week before going to work. He eats oatmeal and raisins at work for lunch at least 4 days a week. It sustains him and allows him to not have “the nibbles”… so yes, sugar, but not lots of fat and unnamed stuff that is worse. Plus he has enough energy left when he comes home to walk the German Shepherd a couple of miles before a dinner of protein and veggies with salad … ((and)) some fruit during the day for snacks… His cholesterol is down and so is his pant size. I am a fan of Kashi. is down and so is his pant size. I am a fan of Kashi.

    • Honey Bear

      I also placed all the Kashi cereals in my fiance’s house into a kitchen garbage bag, and that’s where they stayed. Kashi is loaded with sugar and a host of other unhealthy or uneeded additives. It is nothing more than glorified JUNK FOOD.

  • Woollie1

     I just had a bowl of Kashi Go Lean Crunch, now I wish I never bought it!  The points for  Weight Watchers for 3/4 c. is 9 points, plus 2 points for 8 oz. of skim milk.  That is way too many points for a breakfast cereal.  I’ll finish the box, but will not buy it again.

  • N_dievski

    “Most Americans get much more protein in a day than they really need.” Are you kidding me? That’s outrageous at best and miles away from the truth!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/William-Henry-Miller/1244253063 William Henry Miller

      You must be drastically uninformed. I think I know where the misinformation sprouts, though.

      The USDA recommends 10-35% of your calories come from protein. (I know that’s a large range but bear with me here) For a 2000 calorie diet (the recommendation for women) that will average to 46 grams. For men (2500 calorie diet) that will average to 56. Depending on your activity level, your caloric intake may be higher. Speak to your dietician.

      Do you know how small that is? A standard-sized chicken breast comes out to 8 ounces. 8 ounces of meat contains roughly 50 grams of protein. For either sex, that’s pretty much your entire protein content. One average piece of meat at one meal.

      This is not how Americans eat. At least, no American I’ve met. I’ve known people to eat an entire porterhouse (~20 oz, minus bone) at one meal. Not to mention the usual ‘lunch is leftovers’ mentality most mothers I know follow. They’re getting their 7 ounce piece of meat at dinner, then another one at lunch!

      So, in closing, all I can really say is research before you make dumb claims on the internet. Somebody WILL come around to correct you (albeit 2 years later)

      • Name

        Well I think you’re overlooking something–not everyone eats meat. For people who don’t eat meat, a conscious effort needs to be made in order to get the right amount of protein. With that said, I probably get half my protein from Greek yogurt (the fat free, plain kind) mixed with granola. I don’t think it’s too hard to find protein if you really want to find it.

      • Maxson

        I don’t know what kind of mutant chicken you’re getting, but 8 ounces of normal earth chicken contains at MOST 30-35 grams of protein, not 50. That being said, it is not difficult to get 46-56 grams of protein. However, if you are an active individual with a proper workout regimen, 46-56 grams of protein is NOT enough. The USDA recommendations are for your average sedentary American.

  • Jonathan

    Kashi has resorted to using ‘natural flavors’ on their products :(

  • Jonathan

    Kashi has resorted to using ‘natural flavors’ on their products :(

  • msv

    The average American diet consists of way too much animal protein.  This is one major reason for high cholesterol and weakened immune systems; inviting in cancer and all of these new “incurable yet manageable” conditions that thrive in a much too acidic body. Sugar also equals acid in your body. You don’t have to look very hard to learn about the direct relationship between diet and health. Our mere history contains the most honest “labratory proof” any thinking person could need. I won’t go into how all of the long shelf life, refined and processed crap, that so many people are consuming regularly, is clogging up all of our organs…including our brains! 

  • Mark

    As someone who lifts regularly for mass building and requires lots of protein, I would not eat this for the increased protein content, as it is soy based.  Excessive amounts of soy based protein is known to increase estrogen and estrogen like compounds, leading to gynecomastia, or male mammary development.

  • B

    I don’t like it cause it tastes weird; i don’t like the texture. Besides, it’s just a box of cereal, there are other options.

  • no MSG

    Anything with texturized soy protein, soy protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate etc. has just another form of the “bad” glutamate of monosodium glutamate. If you are MSG sensitive, do not eat this cereal, or any other higher than expected protein anything.

  • lola jaced

    There are news circulating that Kashi products contains GMO. Watch out with the poison

  • Ladennifer

    I liked kashi before it was cool to like it