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The 3 Things You Should Know Before Buying Your Next Box of Cereal

Mentally Alert2Cereal is a delicious way to start your day. It’s also easy and fast, which means your meal is ready in a matter of minutes. But one thing you should know before you dig in – not all cereals are created equal. Fancy labels with sophisticated ingredients can lure you in, allowing you to overlook what’s really lurking inside. Don’t give-in to the temptation, instead use these three tips on how to be a savvy cereal consumer.

Tip 1: Look at the Sugar

Before putting that box in your cart, be sure to check out how much sugar is in each serving. Why limit added sugar? Because starting your day off with too much of the sweet stuff only provides temporary energy, not the sustainable nourishment your body needs. Set yourself up for success by keeping your added sugar intake to a minimum. Not sure how to do that, don’t worry, figuring it out isn’t hard. The amount of sugar can conveniently be found on the Nutrition Facts Panel which is located right there on the box. Your goal should be finding a cereal that is less than 7 grams of sugar per serving.

Tip 2: Look for Fiber

As a nation, we don’t eat nearly enough fiber and typically fall short of our 25-35 grams per day recommendation. But there’s an easy way to get more filling fiber in each day, and that’s by choosing a cereal that has plenty of whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Besides looking for those particular ingredients in your cereal, you can also check out the fiber content on the Nutrition Facts Panel. Choose a cereal that has at least 4 grams of fiber per serving.

Tip 3: Look for Whole Grains

Whole-Grain-smallBesides offering up fiber, whole grains provide a vast array of other nutrients including protein, iron, B Vitamins and phosphorus. The 2016 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends we make at least half our grains whole grains, and cereal is a great step in getting us there. Luckily, many products that contain whole grains feature front of the package information that includes a whole grain stamp, so be on the look out for that. Also, you can ensure the cereal is made with whole grains simply by looking at the ingredient list and noting whether or not the word “whole” appears before the grain.

Choosing the most nourishing cereal doesn’t have to be a daunting task, especially when you know what to look for when shopping. Take the three tips above with you next time you’re at the grocery store and you’ll be on your way to enjoying a delicious, yet nutritious bowl of satisfying cereal.


Sara Haas is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) based in Chicago, Illinois. She works primarily as a freelance consultant dietitian and chef, and writes on her own blog at She’s been helping people for almost 15 years to understand the importance of nutrition on health and well-being. She can be seen on television doing cooking segments, or on the radio lending her voice for nutrition-related PSA’s, or even in some of your favorite publications giving tips on nutrition.

We’re thankful to have Sara answering nutrition questions here on the Plan to Eat blog. Send your questions to Sara by filling out this short form.

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