Cereals that aren't as healthy as they sound

A nutritious name doesn't mean much, Consumer Reports found

Published: September 11, 2014 05:00 PM

When you come across a cereal with a name like Raisin Bran or Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus Pumpkin Flax Granola, you assume it will be good for you. But Consumer Reports’ food experts say that's not always true.  

We evaluated 55 cereals for calories, fat, fiber, sugar, and other nutrients listed on the labels, and took another look at the 13 cereals we rated last year. Thirty-three brands rated at least a Very Good for nutrition, and we taste-tested those. The remaining 35 received a Good or below rating for nutrition. Those cereals are listed in the chart below in order of nutritional quality; cereals at the top of the chart are healthier than those at the bottom. Note that we didn't taste-test these. (You can download the chart here and share via social media.)

Overall, these cereals tend to be lower in fiber or higher in sugars or sodium or fat. For instance, a serving of Kashi Organic Promise Indigo Morning contains just 2 grams of fiber, whereas a serving of Kashi Go Lean—which made our list of healthy cereals—has 10 grams. And Post Grape-Nuts Fit Cranberry Vanilla contains 9 grams of sugar per serving, while Post Grape Nuts The Original—which rated a Very Good for nutrition—has just 5 grams.  Four different brands of raisin bran—Post, Kellogg’s, Market Pantry (Target) and Great Value (Walmart)—contain 17 to 19 grams of sugar per 1-cup serving.

Several of these cereals are also fairly high in fat. For instance, Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus Pumpkin Flax Granola contains 10 grams, whereas Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus—which was part of our top 33 and rated a Very Good for nutrition—has only 1.5 grams. If one of the cereals on this list is among your family’s favorites, consider mixing half a serving with one of the healthier varieties.                                                

—Linda Greene

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