Reminder: Many Cereals are Sweeter than Dessert

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit advocacy group, has published a not-so-surprising study concerning the sugar content of children’s cereal. They reviewed 84 popular brands and checked out their sugar content. The most offensive product, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, is 56% sugar by weight!

Who cares if such cereals are fortified by vitmins and minerals. That’s way too much sugar in the diet of children who already are exposed to multiple sugar events every day.

Cereal have become the de facto breakfast in a majority of US households. Fortunately, there are decent options out there for families. Here are our tips for choosing cereal:

- less than 6 grams of sugar (1.5 teaspoons)

- 3 or more grams of fiber

- no artificial dyes (red #40, Yellow 5, etc…)

- no partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats)

- a short ingredient list

What’s your favorite healthy cereal?

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  • Dave

    Considering that cereals are just processed grains and grains like corn, wheat and rice are the base of most boxed cereals why not just eat the same grains in their whole, unprocessed form (or slightly processed in the case of bulgur wheat). Here is a great breakfast cereal recipe…


    General Mills says their Honey Smacks (highest in sugar), aren’t marketed to children, but “active male adults.”  Really, the cartoon frog and cheap toys in the box are for “active male adults”?

    • Cactus Wren

      Not quite: 

      Honey Smacks is not marketed to children and seldom eaten by them, said
      Lisa Sutherland, vice president of nutrition at Kellogg North America.
      Neither is Wheaties Fuel, said Kirstie Foster, a General Mills
      spokesman. Its target audience is active male adults, Foster said.

      The “active male adults” line was in reference to Wheaties Fuel, not Honey Smacks.

      Am I the only one here old enough to remember when Honey Smacks and Golden Crisp were called Sugar Smacks and Sugar Crisp?

      • jnwalsh1

        I remember that and remember when (late 80s maybe?) they took the words sugar and honey away!

  • Kate Heuchera

    Another problem with cereal is that it is easy to misjudge what the serving size is, no matter what sort of cereal you are eating…and some are very calorie dense.   Years ago, I remember thinking one of my average size soup bowls held one serving of cereal…turns out it held two servings of cereal when I actually measured it.

  • leah

    I’m surprised to find that my “healthy” choices –raisin bran (17 g sugar), all bran (6 g)– still have a lot of sugar. Only (unfrosted) shredded wheat seems to pass the test. :(

  • jnwalsh1

    There is literally one cereal on the market that I would buy for my kids or myself and it’s Aspen no-sugar added Muesli (and I buy that maybe three times a year).  Everything else is a nutritional disaster. The second ingredient in plain Cheerios is…sugar! Some cereals have four or five types of sweeteners hidden in their ingredients list.  The Kashi brand tries to act all healthy and whole-foody but honey and organic brown rice syrup are….sugar! And all the Kashi cereals have at least two sweeteners in their ingredients.  Totally not worth eating.  And the serving sizes on the boxes are RIDICULOUSLY small and nothing near what an average person actually eats.  So the only “cereal” in our house is plain old fashioned oatmeal and we make it with water, raisins, fresh fruit, frozen berries, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, chopped almonds or walnuts, cinnamon, etc.  A better breakfast is two eggs and a banana, thought.

  • Michelle

    None of them, it’s much healthier to eat some eggs, bacon, and veggies for breakfast, or a low-cheese omelet (or, if you don’t buy into the Primal diet, you can go with the egg-white and turkey bacon combo, but that’s less fun). Protein and nutrients and no insulin spike from the grains. :)

  • Jessica Isabel

    How about Puffins? They’re pretty low in sugar and taste delicious :D Gluten-free too!