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With so many different options (and so many different cereal preferences), narrowing them down to a “best overall cereal” wasn’t an easy task, but ultimately, we chose Annie’s Organic Frosted Oat Flakes for several reasons.
It has a mostly organic (and minimal) ingredient list—combining only simple and recognizable ingredients like organic whole grain oats, organic whole grain wheat, organic cane sugar, and organic vanilla extract—and it’s free of artificial flavors, synthetic colors, and high fructose corn syrup.
It’s also fairly easy to find at most grocery stores and even available in bulk sizes through wholesale clubs. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s delicious. It’s crunchy and slightly sweet without too much going on, making it a crowd-pleaser for both adults and kids. And since it’s so simple, you can customize it to your liking by mixing in your favorite cereal toppers, like sliced bananas, berries, or almonds.
Although cereal is a quick and easy breakfast choice, most options are loaded with simple carbohydrates and sugar, making them a less-than-ideal choice for weight loss. But instead of using grains or rice as a base, the Love Grown Power O’s are made from a blend of navy beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils, which provide 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per 1 1/4 cup serving.
The protein helps keep you full longer, while the fiber helps slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and keeps your blood sugar steadier. And, unlike many other cereals out there, there’s no added sugar, so the calorie count is low—130 calories per serving.
The Love Grown O’s are also available in chocolate and cinnamon, but keep in mind that both flavored options have added cane sugar, so the nutrition facts will change slightly.
Because they’re made of grains and often have added sugar, most cereals don’t fit in with a low-carb diet, but the Seven Sundays Rise and Shine Mix in the Strawberry Banana Nut flavor is an exception to this rule. It’s made from a combination of nuts, seeds, fruit, cinnamon, and vanilla extract and has only 5 grams of net carbohydrates per serving. It’s also completely grain-free, which makes it paleo-friendly too.
Although the serving size is smaller than most cereals (one serving is 1/3 cup), it contains 15 grams of healthy fats from the nuts and seeds and 4 grams of protein, so you’ll feel full and satisfied for longer, even with a smaller volume.
There are two other grain-free flavor options too—Golden Hour Turmeric Blueberry and Lucky Day Matcha Hemp—but they’re higher in carbs, with 11 grams and 8 grams, respectively.
Most of the low sugar cereal options are made with artificial sweeteners or other undesirable ingredients, but the Cascadian Farm No-Sugar-Added Cinnamon Apple Granola gets its subtle sweetness from all-natural date powder, apple powder, and dried apples. Because it relies on natural sweetness, it contains 0 grams of added sugar per serving (although there are 9 grams of natural sugars and 37 grams of carbohydrates in every 2/3 cup).
However, since those natural sugars are also coupled with 5 grams of fiber and other important nutrients, they don’t have the same negative effect on your blood sugar as cane sugar or sugar syrups.
While you can certainly eat this granola straight from a bowl with milk, it also makes a great snack or crunchy topping for Greek yogurt.
Founded in 1981, Kashi helped pave the way for cereals made with whole food, natural ingredients, so it might not come as a surprise that its Organic Promise Cereal in Berry Fruitful earned the spot of best organic cereal.
It has a fully organic ingredient list that includes organic whole grain wheat, organic cane syrup, organic apple powder, and organic raspberry and strawberry purees. While it is slightly high in sugar—it contains 8 grams of added sugars and a total of 47 carbohydrates—it’s also high in fiber and protein, with 6 grams and 7 grams per serving, respectively.
Because of its high fiber and protein content, the Kashi Berry Fruitful cereal is as filling as it is delicious. If you’re not a fan of fruit in your cereal, but you’re looking for some similar options, you can choose from its other wheat biscuit cereal flavors, which include Cinnamon Harvest, Island Vanilla, and Dark Cocoa Karma.
If you’re looking for a high-fiber cereal that tastes surprisingly delicious, you can stop your search with Kellogg’s All Bran Buds. Each 1/2 cup serving provides a whopping 17 grams of fiber, which is 45 to 68 percent of the total amount you need for the entire day, depending on if you’re a man or woman.
The fiber is broken down into both types—insoluble and soluble—so you reap all of fiber’s health benefits, like reduced cholesterol, stable blood sugar, and weight loss. And some of the fiber in the Bran Buds comes from psyllium husk, which is one of the best types of fiber for keeping you regular and your gut healthy.
The ingredient list is also fairly impressive, especially for a cereal manufacturer as large as Kellogg’s. It contains only six ingredients, including wheat bran, sugar, and psyllium husk, as well as several added vitamins and minerals.
Both gluten-free and organic, the Arrowhead Mills Organic Maple Buckwheat Flakes has rightfully earned its spot as the best gluten-free cereal. It’s crunchy, slightly sweet, and the perfect base for other gluten-free mix-ins, like fresh fruit and nuts.
The ingredients are also non-GMO verified and the buckwheat used is regionally sourced from North Dakota and only lightly sweetened with organic maple syrup, honey, and organic cane juice.
Each 1 cup serving provides 4 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber, and 170 calories. And even though it has three different sweeteners, it’s still fairly low in sugar, containing only 5 grams per serving.
Most cereals marketed toward kids are full of sugar, dyes, and other artificial ingredients, but Mom’s Best Safari Cocoa Crunch doesn’t have any of that. It’s made with real dutch processed cocoa and only six other non-GMO ingredients, like corn flour, sugar, and natural flavors. Plus, it’s free of artificial flavors and preservatives.
Of course, your kids might not care about that as much as the taste. The good news is that its rich chocolate flavor will likely satisfy even the pickiest eaters. Although it’s a huge step up from other puffed chocolate cereals ingredient-wise, your kids won’t even be able to tell the difference.
Keep in mind that it’s still fairly high in sugar—each serving contains 18 added grams—but since there’s no high-fructose corn syrup, it’s still a better choice than many others on the market.
If you prefer hot cereal over cold, skip the regular oatmeal and give Bob’s Red Mill Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal a try. It’s made from a combination of four gluten-free ingredients—whole grain brown rice, corn, whole grain sorghum, and whole-grain buckwheat—that are delicious on their own or make the perfect base for your favorite hot cereal add-ins.
Because the Mighty Tasty hot cereal isn’t sweetened, you can tailor it to your liking by adding a little bit of maple syrup or honey or forging the sweetener altogether.
As is, each 1/4 cup serving contains 140 calories, 31 grams of carbohydrates (2 grams of which come from fiber), and 3 grams of plant-based protein.
If you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing cereal that’s made with healthy, organic ingredients, Annie’s Organic Frosted Oat Flakes has you covered. If you’re trying to find a way to fit cereal into your low-carb or paleo diet, opt for the Seven Sundays Rise and Shine Mix Strawberry Banana Nut cereal. Have picky kids but want to give them a better option? The Mom’s Best Safari Cocoa Crunch has your back.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Lindsay Boyers is a certified holistic nutritionist with extensive nutrition knowledge and food- and beverage-testing experience. She’s also developed over 1,000 original recipes and is constantly on a mission to find the healthiest, best-tasting options and ingredients across all food and drink categories.