Choosing Breakfast Cereal

Janis Hunter
Home & Garden Information Center

Cereal is a quick, easy, nutritious way to start the day. Breakfast cereals should be nutrient dense and contain plenty of fiber but very little sugar and fat. Generally a one-ounce serving of hot or cold cereal should contain:

  • 100-200 calories, ideally less than 120 calories.
  • 2 or more grams of protein.
  • 3 or more grams of fiber, preferably 5 or more grams.
  • 8 grams or less of sugar.
  • 3 grams or less of fat, no trans fat.
  • 10 - 25% of the Daily Value for key vitamins and minerals (e.g. iron, folate, B6 and B12).

What counts as a one-ounce serving? In ready-to-eat cereals, it is 1 cup of flakes or rounds or 1¼ cups of puffed cereal. A one-ounce serving of a cooked cereal is ½ cup. A serving of oatmeal equals ½ cup cooked, 1 ounce dry (regular or quick) or 1 packet of instant cereal.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and ready-to-eat cereal is one of the most popular breakfast choices in the United States. See HGIC 4224, Choosing Breakfast Cereals for more information on using the Nutrition Facts label to select a breakfast cereal. This label can help you find cereals that contain more nutrients per serving among brands, as well as other tips on how to shop in the breakfast cereal aisle at the supermarket.

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