Healthy cereal: Expert advice reveals the best and worst cereals for your diet

How healthy is your favourite cereal?

A collage of some of the best healthy cereal brands
(Image credit: Future)

Finding a healthy cereal for breakfast is a challenging task, as some of the most popular brands are filled with hidden sugars and other additives.

Over the years, the health myths around breakfast foods have been debunked. Experts have weighed in on healthy cereal bars (opens in new tab) and whether Greek yoghurt is good for you (opens in new tab), they've debated the positives and negatives around low calorie breakfasts (opens in new tab) to start the day. We know that what we eat in the morning should be high in nutrients and low in sugar, but it's even more important than many people might think.

"When we’ve spent several hours fasting through the night, our blood sugar is likely to be low on waking," Liz Cooper, nutritional advisor at Bio-Kult (opens in new tab), explains. "So it’s important to eat a breakfast that’s not going to cause a spike in our blood sugar level, as this could result in a slump by mid-morning and could potentially have us reaching for sweet snacks or caffeine to give us the energy boost we’ll no doubt need."

 What is the healthiest cereal?

A healthy cereal should contain the right balance of ingredients to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, Liz says. "This requires sufficient amounts of protein, healthy fat (opens in new tab) and fibre, which all further help towards supplying us with nutrients vital for functions such as hormone production, growth and repair and immune function."

Nutritional advisor Liz recommends bircher muesli and granola, as they are "free from added sugar and high sugar dried fruit. In fact, making your own granola (opens in new tab) is even better and often much more cost effective". Other healthy breakfast ideas include porridge, omelettes and smoothies.

How we tested

To find the healthiest cereal, we've ranked 25 different cereals from best to worst. The rankings are based on their nutritional value, looking at serving size, calorific information, sugar and salt content, with particularly high or low nutritional scores highlighted throughout.

To make our findings fair we have analysed the fat, saturated fat, sugar, salt content and calories for 100g portions of each cereal - instead of the individual recommended serving size for adults or children - and haven't included milk.

A 100ml serving of milk has the following nutritional content:

  •  Whole milk: 66 calories, 4.7g carbohydrate, 3.5g protein, 3.7g fat 
  •  Semi-skimmed milk: 50 calories, 4.8g carbohydrate, 3.6g protein, 1.8g fat 
  •  Skimmed milk: 35 calories, 5g carbohydrate, 3.6g protein, 0.1g fat 

Healthy cereals from best to worst, at a glance

  • Best cereal overall: Weetabix
  • Best cereal for sugar content: Nestle Bitesize Shredded Wheat
  • Best cereal for saturated fat content: Kellogg's Cornflakes
  • Worst cereal overall: Honey Monster Puffs
  • Worst cereal for sugar content: Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Cornflakes
  • Worst cereal for saturated fat content: Honey Monster Puffs

 Which are the healthiest cereals? Healthy cereals ranked from best to worst: 

Weetabix

(Image credit: Weetabix)

1. Weetabix

Best healthy cereal overall

Specifications

Calories: 362
Fat: 2g
Saturated fat: 0.6g
Sugar: 4.2g
Salt: 0.28g
Suggested serving size: 20g (2 biscuits)

Reasons to buy

+
Low in fat
+
Low in salt
+
Low calories

Reasons to avoid

-
Higher sugar content

Verdict:  Is Weetabix good for you? The answer is a resounding yes! Although it might have a higher sugar content than other cereals, it's got the lowest fat, saturated fat and salt score. Weetabix also has lower calories (opens in new tab) than other cereals, scoring well for the amount of calories per 100g - that’s almost half that of the worst overall cereal.

Plus the great thing about them is that your portion size is chosen for you, so you can't heap a bowl up of cereal and eat more than the recommended amount. The perfect healthy cereal choice.

If you like to sprinkle some sugar over the top, try a natural sweetener like honey or add some naturally sweet fresh fruit instead.


Ready Brek

(Image credit: Ready Brek)

2. Ready Brek

Specifications

Calories: 374
Fat: 8.7g
Saturated fat: 1.2g
Sugar: 1g
Salt: 0.3g
Suggested serving: 30g

Reasons to buy

+
High in Vitamin D
+
High in fibre

Verdict: A comforting bowl of porridge oats is a winning breakfast, and the nutritional info for Ready Brek agrees. There are high levels of vitamin D and fibre in this, and the fat and sugar content is comparatively lower than other cereals. There's only 1.2g of saturated fat too. 

If you're wondering is porridge healthy (opens in new tab), overall it's a great way to start your day as it releases energy slowly and is a great source of fibre, making Ready Brek the perfect option for your family breakfast.


Kellogg's cornflakes

(Image credit: Kellogg's)

3. Kellogg's Cornflakes

Best cereal for low saturated fat

Specifications

Calories: 378
Fat: 0.9g
Saturated fat: 0.2g
Sugar: 8g
Salt: 1.12g
Suggested serving: 30g

Reasons to buy

+
Low in fat
+
Low in sugar

Reasons to avoid

-
Low in fibre

Verdict: Kellogg's Cornflakes are one of the classics when it comes to cereal and no wonder they've been around so long - they're pretty good for you. Cornflakes have a super low fat and sugar content - just don't add too much sugar if you like a sweeter taste!

However, cereals like cornflakes or puffed rice tend to be low in fibre, so they're not as good a choice as a wholegrain cereal. Adding some fruit to your cornflakes can make them more filling to eat and keep you going until lunch time.


Scott's Porridge Oats

(Image credit: Scott's Porridge Oats)

4. Scott's Porridge Oats

Specifications

Calories: 374
Fat: 8g
Saturated fat: 1.5g
Sugar: 1g
Salt: -
Suggested serving: 40g

Reasons to buy

+
Low sugar content
+
High in fibre
+
High in protein

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly high in fat

Verdict: Although this traditional breakfast of porridge oats is slightly higher in fat than you might think, its sugar levels are super low, and it's packed full of fibre and protein to help keep your body strong and healthy. Oats can even help to lower cholesterol, so the slightly higher fat content is somewhat balanced out.

If you're a fan of porridge for breakfast it's worth remembering that the nutritional value can change if you add toppings - such as fruit or honey - but don't let that put you off, because British Heart Foundation (opens in new tab) ranks this filling breakfast as the best, because it can help reduce your cholesterol (opens in new tab).


Kellogg's All Bran

(Image credit: Kellogg's)

5. Kellogg's All Bran

Specifications

Calories: 334
Fat: 3.5g
Saturated fat: 0.7g
Sugar: 18g
Salt: 0.95g
Suggested serving: 40g

Reasons to buy

+
Low in calories
+
High in fibre

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly high sugar content

Verdict: All Bran is one of the best cereals we could find. Not only does it have low calorie content but with it's fab fibre content, it'll fill you up for the whole morning, so there will be no snacking until lunchtime.

Other benefits of bran flakes in general are better heart health, better gut health (opens in new tab) and reduced bloating (opens in new tab), but the one thing to note about this cereal is the sugar content, so avoid adding an extra to your morning bowl if you want to keep this breakfast as healthy as possible.


Alpen Original Muesli

(Image credit: Alpen)

6. Alpen Original Muesli

Specifications

Calories: 374
Fat: 5.6g
Saturated fat: 0.9g
Sugar: 21g
Salt: 0.25g
Suggested serving: 45g

Reasons to buy

+
High in fibre

Reasons to avoid

-
High sugar content

Verdict: This tasty muesli is packed with roasted almonds, hazelnuts and juicy raisins. It has 8.3g of fibre per serving so is a great choice if you're looking to add more fibre into your diet.

There's a comparatively high sugar content in this muesli, but the added sweetness from the raisins means you won't need to add any extra yourself - and they contribute to your five-a-day too.


Essential Waitrose Malted Wheats

(Image credit: Waitrose)

7. Essential Waitrose Malted Wheats

Specifications

Calories: 361
Fat: 1.7g
Saturated fat: 0.4g
Sugar: 10.6g
Salt: 0.42g
Suggested serving: 30g

Reasons to buy

+
Low in fat
+
Low in salt
+
Low in calories

Verdict: Level pegging with family favourite Weetabix comes these surprisingly afforable Waitrose malted wheats. They're low in fat, salt and calories when compared with many of the cereals in our round-up, and they're made from wholegrain wheat, which means they're packed with fibre.

Their slightly sweeter taste means that the kids are likely to gobble them up too - a great all-rounder to have in the cupboard.


Nestle Frosted Shreddies

(Image credit: Nestle)

8. Nestle Shreddies Frosted Cereal

Best cereal for low sugar

Specifications

Calories: 370
Fat: 1.5g
Saturated fat: 0.3g
Sugar: 22.4g
Salt: 0.64g
Suggested serving: 40g

Reasons to buy

+
Low in saturated fat

Reasons to avoid

-
High in sugar

Verdict: Considering these Shreddies are frosted, the sugar content is a lot lower than some other cereals we looked at. Although it wouldn't be good to eat these every morning, you won't be sprinkling any sugar over them, so don't feel guilty if you treat yourself or the kids every now and again. 

They have the second lowest saturated fat content too, making these tasty squares a great option if you're looking for a sugary cereal that's on the healthier side.


Nestle Bitesize Shredded Wheat

(Image credit: Nestle)

9. Nestle Bitesize Shredded Wheat

Specifications

Calories: 367
Fat: 2.2g
Saturated fat: 0.5g
Sugar: 0.7g
Salt: 0.05g
Suggested serving: 40g

Reasons to buy

+
Low in sugar
+
Low salt content

Verdict: With just 0.7g of sugar in 100g it has the lowest sugar content by far compared to the other cereals, and the salt content is pretty low too. Plus it's really filling, you get some of your wholegrain for the day and it's comparatively cheap - what a healthy cereal bargain!

The British Heart Foundation adds: "Shredded whole wheat cereal with low-fat milk is the best choice of conventional breakfast cereals, because it doesn’t contain any added sugar or salt, and is high in fibre."


Special K

(Image credit: Kellogg's)

10. Kellogg's Special K (Original)

Specifications

Calories: 392
Fat: 1.3g
Saturated fat: 0.3g
Sugar: 15g
Salt: 1g
Suggested serving: 30g

Reasons to buy

+
Low in fat

Verdict: The original Special K has only 1.5g of fat in 100g so it's the perfect choice if you're trying to slim down. They taste really sweet too, so there will be no need for extra sugar, and you'll be full until lunchtime. 

If you can't get enough of Kellogg's Special K and want to lose weight fast, you might want to check out the Special K diet plan (opens in new tab), a 14-day program that sees people eat the cereal for two of their three meals a day and promises to help you lose weight by  restricting your calorie consumption.


Nestle Cheerios Multigrain

(Image credit: Nestle)

11. Nestle Cheerios Multigrain

Specifications

Calories: 384
Fat: 5g
Saturated fat: 0.9g
Sugar: 17.6g
Salt: 0.83g
Suggested serving: 30g

Reasons to buy

+
Relatively low in fat
+
Good amount of fibre

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly high in sugar

Verdict: Those tasty little Os aren't just delicious, but they're a reasonably good choice for breakfast too. If you want to make this an extra healthy cereal choice, sprinkle some berries or slice a banana on top too to get you on track for your 5-a-day!

This multigrain version is a much better option than other Cheerio flavours, because is has less added sugar, is relatively low in fat and has a good amount of fibre.


Nestle Cookie Crisp

(Image credit: Nestle)

Specifications

Calories: 395
Fat: 5.3g
Saturated fat: 2.2g
Sugar: 22.4g
Salt: 0.66g
Suggested serving: 30g

Reasons to avoid

-
High in sugar
-
High in fat

Verdict: This chocolate cereal may be delicious, but it comes as no surprise given the very high sugar content! Though it's not a bad price, it also has a relatively high fat content too - so maybe save this as an occasional treat.

As far as sweet and chocolatey cereals go however, it's by no means the worst choice, so if the kids have been begging for a chocolate cereal or you fancy starting your day with something sweet, then Cookie Crisp could be a good option.


Kellogg's All-Bran Prebiotic Oaty Clusters Original Cereal

(Image credit: Kellogg's)

13. Kellogg's All-Bran Prebiotic Oaty Clusters Original Cereal

Specifications

Calories: 388
Fat: 12g
Saturated fat: 1.3g
Sugar: 4.9g
Salt: 0.31g
Suggested serving: 45g

Reasons to buy

+
High in fibre
+
Low in sugar

Verdict: With 22g of fibre, this cereal is great for a healthy gut, and the natural prebiotic chicory root fibre helps support digestive health too and contributing to normal bowel function.

It's also low in sugar and will help to fill you up for the day, so you won't be snacking all morning after filling up on a bowl of this cereal.


Golden Nuggets

(Image credit: Nestle)

14. Nestle Golden Nuggets

Specifications

Calories: 377
Fat: 1.5g
Saturated fat: 0.4g
Sugar: 22.4g
Salt: 0.63g
Suggested serving: 30g

Reasons to buy

+
Low fat content

Reasons to avoid

-
High in sugar

Verdict: Kids love Golden Nuggets, so if you want to give them a 'treat' cereal every now and then. this could be a good choice. Although the sugar content is quite high, the fat and saturated fats are low, so while it's not the healthiest cereal out there, it's by no means the worst.


Kellogg's Fruit Loops

(Image credit: Kellogg's)

15. Kellog's Froot Loops

Specifications

Calories: 384
Fat: 2.5g
Saturated fat: 0.9g
Sugar: 25g
Salt: 1.1g
Suggested serving: 30g

Reasons to buy

+
High in fibre

Reasons to avoid

-
High in sugar

Verdict: This fruity cereal is loved by kids everywhere, and it's only 385 calories per serving. It contains 4.3g of fibre per 100g serving, and is a good choice if you want a treat cereal that's not too full of calories.

Bear in mind however that this cereal contains a lot of added sugar, so you wont want to be sprinkling any more on the top of your morning bowl of this particular breakfast food.


Deliciously Ella Original Granola

(Image credit: Deliciously Ella)

16. Deliciously Ella Original Granola

Specifications

Calories: 386
Fat: 13.8g
Saturated fat: 2.5g
Sugar: 15.9g
Salt: 0.04g
Suggested serving: 45g

Reasons to buy

+
High in fibre
+
Gluten free
+
Vegan friendly

Verdict: Deliciously Ella's original granola is high in fibre and packed with raisins, coconut and cinnamon. It's gluten free and vegan friendly too, so suitable for most diets.

However, it's worth bearing in mind that granola isn't always as healthy as people think (opens in new tab). While the oats are a great source of fibre and help to aid digestion, with magnesium an added benefit too, many contain added sweetener, making the sugar content pretty high. 


Jordans Country Crisp Four Nut Crunch

(Image credit: Jordans)

17. Jordans Country Crisp Four Nut Crunch

Specifications

Calories: 466
Fat: 19.9g
Saturated fat: 2.4g
Sugar: 17.6g
Salt: 0.03g
Suggested serving: 45g

Reasons to buy

+
Low in salt

Reasons to avoid

-
High in calories
-
High fat content

Verdict: This cereal might be tasty, but with the high calories and over 19g of fat per 100g serving, it is one to bypass if you're on a diet - and the sugar content isn't low either.

However, it's not all bad news for Jordans, as the four nuts add lots of goodness including protein and vitamins, and its worth bearing in mind that while nuts are high in fat, it's mostly a healthier unsaturated fat. This cereal came joint lowest for salt content too.