5 On Your Side

Whole grain cereals add nutrition to breakfast bowls, experts say

Posted August 17, 2017 11:01 a.m. EDT

Cereal can get a bad rap for being too low in protein, too high in sugars or too processed to be healthy.

That can be true of some breakfast cereals, but plenty are nutritious. Consumer Reports says there are cereals that both taste good and are good for you.

“It’s best if you can hit four main things," said Consumer Reports' Catherine Roberts. "A protein, a complex carbohydrate, a dairy and a fruit, and the nice thing about cereal is, it’s a quick and easy way to get all those things if you throw in a sliced banana or something like that.”

Consumer Reports says to start with the right cereal—one that's whole grain. A 100 percent whole-grain cereal is best, but at least find one with it as the first ingredient.

“Whole grains have been linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease," said Consumer Reports' Maxine Siegel. "Another benefit is that they’re going to fill you up, so you’re not going to get that mid-morning hunger attack.”

Also, Consumer Reports says to watch the amount of sugar in the cereal. If you really want a sweetened cereal, choose one with no more than eight grams of sugar per serving.

Pay attention to protein, too. Consumer Reports says it may help keep blood sugar steady and can help with weight control. Cereal usually only has a few grams, so experts say to add cow's milk or yogurt to boost the total.

Finally, watch your portions. Many people often pour more than the suggested serving. Instead, grab your favorite bowl and measure out a serving, so you recognize what a proper portion really is.

A few good picks according to Consumer Reports are Post Shredded Wheat and Alpen Muesli No Sugar Added. If you just have to have something a little sweeter, try Cheerios Multi-Grain. All three did well for taste and nutrition in Consumer Reports testing.