“Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.” Remember those cereal commercials? Some of the most beloved kids’ cereals have a common element. It’s not a rabbit, but instead, they share a lot of added sugar. No wonder kids love cereal, right? However, there’s some not-so-sweet news. In many cereals, the bad (processed sugar) far outweighs the good (those compelling nutrition claims on the front of the box). That’s why StudyFinds set out to find the best and healthiest cereals for children (and adults too) when it comes to a truly balanced breakfast.
All parents should first understand just how much an unhealthy breakfast can impact a child’s health. Researchers from the University of California-Riverside say eating too much fat and sugar as a child can permanently alter a person’s microbiome. The microbiome is pretty important to overall health, too. It’s all the bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses which live inside and on the surface of humans. Most live in the intestines and work to stimulate the immune system, break down food and synthesize vitamins.
Researchers also say sugar intake may play a major role in ADHD, bipolar disorder and even aggressive behavior. They found that sugar and high fructose corn syrup trick the body into thinking it’s starving; thereby changing a person’s mental state. Of course, this doesn’t account for factors involving nature or nurture.
There’s good news for older folks who eat cereal too. Researchers at the University of Technology in Sydney have discovered that individuals over the age of 80 who regularly eat cereal are much less likely to experience memory loss and simultaneous heart disease. In fact, their study of 139,000 Australians reveals that individuals over the age of 80 who never or infrequently eat cereal are at the highest risk of memory loss and comorbid heart disease.
All the more reason to pour a bowl for yourself and your kids in the morning!
So, when you want a cereal that tastes really great, but without loads of sugar, there are a handful of options that stand out. We checked out 12 experts reviews to come away with the best and healthiest cereal for kids to have for breakfast. Our list is based on the most recommended products across the websites. These sites examined the nutrition facts for sugar content, as well as protein, fiber and fat to determine the most nutrient-dense choices. You may even be surprised by their picks for the best kids’ cereal. If you’ve got your own suggestions, please share them in the comments section below!
The List: Top 5 Healthiest Kids’ Cereals Most Recommended By Experts
Best Kid Stuff recommends Cheerios, writing, “It is hard to not like Cheerios. These toasted little circles are known for being heart-healthy, but they have lots of other health benefits as well. There is one gram of sugar in one cup, one of a few cereals with less than 5 grams of sugar that pediatricians recommend.”
“Cheerios have been a long-standing favorite for good reason. They’re made from whole grain oats, contain 4 g of fiber, 5 g of protein, and practically a whole multivitamin in every serving. Cheerios are also gluten-free and make a great basic cereal that you can top with any fruit, nuts, or yogurt. The little Os are also very easy to eat and dissolve pretty quickly, making them a suitable early finger food for toddlers,” Healthline says.
Livestrong also ranked Cheerios as the No. 1 best cereal for kids: “Cheerios are at the top of our healthy cereals list. Per serving, they have 1 g of sugar and 3 g of fiber. You can introduce them to your children as a finger food when they are very young, and as your kids grow up, they will be hooked on the taste. For more flavors (and vitamins), add berries or bananas.”
HuffPost recommends Puffins because: “All Puffins flavors have 10 grams of sugar or less per serving and are Non-GMO Project Verified.” RDN Chelsey Amer told HuffPost, “Nutritionally speaking, I love that they’re lower in sugar than most breakfast cereals. They contain 6 grams of fiber per serving and even 3 grams of protein, thanks to whole grains.’”
Mom Junction writes, “This high-fiber breakfast cereal is made from corn and oats. A single serving contains five grams of fiber. It is low in sodium, fat, and sugar and does not contain GMO ingredients. It may be a good option for children with food allergies.”
Picky Eater picks it as a healthy and popular choice: “This is my top pick among all of the Barbara’s Cereals line, it’s also one of the most popular cereals I’ve found for kids that’s actually healthy! Simple ingredients, non-GMO, crispy and slightly sweet. Enjoy this healthy cold cereal with low-fat milk, or your favorite plant based milk like unsweetened almond milk or oat milk.”
PureWow kicks other cereals to the curb and chooses Kix: “One bowl of these cholesterol-free corn puffs provides three grams of dietary fiber, and only as much sugar. Despite the low sugar content, this classic cereal has a pleasantly sweet taste that’s parent and kid-approved. Plus, Kix has a light and airy texture that’s ideal for dry snacking, too.”
Care.com recommends Kix, writing, “Who didn’t love Kix as a child? Parents looking for a low-sugar cereal for their kids — or a great dry snack on the go — can feel comfy passing on this breakfast from their childhood. A splash of their favorite milk will up the protein.”
4. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Eat This, Not That! picks this as a top choice, and here’s why: “Cinnamon on toast is already a game-changer, but then you put it in cereal form and it’s game over. This is one of our favorite kids’ cereals, and as it turns out, it’s not awful for you. The first ingredient listed on this product is whole grain wheat. This cereal is also fortified with lots of vitamins and minerals, including several B vitamins like vitamin B12 and vitamin D3.”
Family Minded has taste in mind, too: “The tiny graham cracker-shaped cereal bites, sprinkled as they are with cinnamon and sugar, remain the gold standard for taking breakfast cereal to a whole new level. Little wonder that the ad reps for Cinnamon Toast Crunch came up with such slogans as ‘Crave those crazy squares.’”
5. Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition says to make your path down the cereal aisle straight to Heritage Flakes:“Made with Kamut wheat flour, wheat bran, whole wheat, and just a few more ingredients, this option is another hearty, healthy cereal. One serving size offers five grams of protein, an impressive seven grams of fiber, and five grams of added sugar.”
Today’s Parent writes, “This cereal has less sugar than most others on the list — just six grams per serving. It also boasts six grams of fibre from a mix of grains, including wheat bran, kamut, millet, quinoa, oats and barley. Why kids will love it: If your kids like to mix a bunch of different cereals into one bowl, they’ll love this ready-made mix, which is a nice blend of crunchy flakes and sweet granola clusters. The mild cinnamon taste is a lovely bonus.”
What was your favorite cereal as a kid? Tell us all about it in the comments below.
- Best Kid Stuff
- Mom Junction
- Picky Eater
- Eat This, Not That!
- Family Minded
- Institute for Integrative Nutrition
- Today’s Parent
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. Study Finds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.