Commercial ready to eat breakfast cereals started off with good intentions, intending to be highly nutritious meals for people on the go and with little time to prepare a larger or more wholesome breakfast. While the forces of capitalism have largely caused breakfast cereals to become so laden with sugar they might make better desserts, there are still a few healthy options available.
In general, hot cereals cooked only with water tend to have the lowest amount of sugar, higher amounts of fiber, and are more likely to help you keep full throughout the day. Commercial ready to eat cereals can also be good choices. If you are looking to limit sugar consider eating your cereal with unsweetened soymilk or unsweetened almond milk which only contain 1g or less of sugar, vs 1 cup of dairy milk which contains 12.5 grams of sugar per cup!
Cereals low in sugar include Quaker Puffed Rice, Cream of Wheat, Cream of Rice, Puffed Millet, Grits, Kashi 7 Grain Puffs, Quaker Puffed Wheat, General Mills Fiber One, and Post Shredded Wheat N Bran. For more, see the full list of 50 cereals low in sugar (less than 5.5 grams of sugar per serving).
How much sugar do breakfast cereals contain on average?
The average serving of cereal contains 9 grams of sugar.
25% of those will contain 6 grams or less.
50% will contain 9.3 grams or less.
25% will contain 12 grams or more.
All brands of raisin bran contain a lot of sugar, with 18-19 grams per cup. However, granolas and Familia's granola in particular, can contain even more with an astounding 28 grams of sugar per cup. See more high sugar cereals to avoid.
What can I do to reduce my sugar intake in cereals?
Try making your own hot cereal at home. Check labels for instant oatmeals, as they can often have a lot of added sugars. Your best choice is to buy whole cereals. Making oatmeal is really easy and should not take more than 5 minutes. See our step by step guide for how to make oatmeal. If you do feel the need to have some sugar, try using a little bit of honey, or dry fruits, and use less and less each time. Low sugar fruits like strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries are a good choice to substitute for sugar.
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Data Sources and References
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.