Top 10 Toxic Kids Cereals To Avoid At All Costs

When we think of kids’ breakfasts in America, we tend to think of the icons we grew up with: Cap’n Crunch, Tony the Tiger and Count Dracula. This kind of marketing has encouraged kids to demand cereal loaded with sugar, and has also eroded our concept of what comprises of a healthy breakfast. Cold cereals can dominate an entire aisle in your supermarket, but what’s hiding in those kids cereals may be damaging your child.

Like our expose on peanut butter and what’s really in your orange juice, Mamavation took a look at some of the most toxic ingredients hiding in your child’s breakfast cereal:

Toxic Ingredients in Kids Cereals

  • Sugar: Many kid cereals are high in sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is also called corn syrup or corn sugar. Generally, if you see “sugar” of any kind in non-organic or GMO cereal, very likely it’s HFCS.
  • GMOs: Most conventional cereals contain sugar and corn made from GMO products. Note that these same manufacturers create GMO free cereals for distribution overseas.
  • Hydrogenated Oils: Partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fats, which, as we’ve discussed before, are linked to cancer, heart disease and immune problems. Fully hydrogenated oils are full of saturated fat. In addition, some companies will label partially hydrogenated oils as just “hydrogenated oils”, so you can’t be sure if there is trans fat in the product. (If there is less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, companies are allowed to write “0 grams of trans fat.”)
  • BHA: Another GRAS additive, BHA has been linked to cancer in some studies. The National Institutes of Health’s National Toxicology Programs has concluded that it can be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Both BHA and BHT are said to be at low enough levels to be safe for consumption by the FDA.
  • Soy Lecithin: Derived from GMO soy, this additive often contains toxins. According to The Cornucopia Institute, soy lecithin processing often involves hexane, and, though it is removed during processing, trace amounts can be left behind. That residue is unregulated by the FDA even though it is listed by that organization as a potential carcinogen and neurotoxin
  • Annatto: This natural flavoring is now entering into controversy. According to WebMD, it can affect blood sugar levels, so if your child has diabetes, please be aware of that. It also has been linked with allergies, and the Food Intolerance Network has gotten reports linking it to headaches and irritability. If you have a sensitive eater or a child prone to allergies, you may want to avoid this flavoring.
  • BHT: Found in many cereals, this food is classified by U.S. law as “GRAS” – “generally recommended as safe”. This means that experts consider them safe and they are approved as food additives without additional testing of their effects. In 2014, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental safety watchdog group, released “Generally Recognized as Secret: Chemicals Added to Food in the U.S.” (PDF). This report found loopholes in the GRAS classification, including research data coming from the company themselves and expert opinions that disregarded evidence of allergic reactions, that compromise the real safety of GRAS additives. BHT is also a chemical additive and may be a possible ADHD trigger.

Why You Should Also Care About Processing

Many kids cereals are manufactured using something called the “extrusion process”. This exposes the grains to high levels of heat and pressure, which changes the nature of the grain, effectively turning it into processed food. FoodMatters.com quotes biochemist Paul Stitt, who notes that this process destroys most of the grains’ natural nutrients. This is why many kids cereals are fortified, although extrusion can destroy those added nutrients as well.

In addition, the proteins in extruded grains are fundamentally altered, leaving a product that may be toxic. According to “Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry”, two known but unpublished experiments testing breakfast cereal on lab rats exist. In both studies, the rats eating breakfast cereal and water died before rats that were either not fed at all or fed the cardboard cereal box and water. One published study showed that these rogue proteins could interact with “each other and other components, forming new compounds that are foreign to the human body.”

The real problem with the extrusion process is not just the lack of recent research on its effect on proteins, but that organic cereals as well as conventional brands often employ this method.

The Trouble with Fortified Foods

Many kids cereals try to cover up their high sugar content with fortification, that is, adding back in nutrients after-the fact. As mentioned, extrusion can delete these nutrients. The second problem with fortified foods is that some can contain too many nutrients, which can actually be toxic for your child. The Environmental Working Group did a survey of major brand cereals in 2014 and found that “one serving would over expose children to” zinc, niacin and vitamin A. While many of those brands were geared towards adults, Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies and Chocolate Krave were in the high Vitamin A list.

Controversial Ingredient

You may have heard the claims about “antifreeze” being found in kids cereal. I did a little digging on this topic recently and discovered that the culprit – trisodium phosphate (TSP) – often found in cereal, has gotten a bad rap. According to LiveStrong, this additive affects color, extrusion and adds phosphorus. Antifreeze contains trisodium phosphate powder used in chemicals like paint thinner and antifreeze and acts as a cleaning agent.

Sounds bad, right? So I hopped over to EWG’s website and entered the words. It turns out that TSP is an inorganic salt. EWG gives it a score of “0” on their toxicity scale and lists no known hazard whatsoever. However, the PAN Pesticides Database also lists this chemical, warning “avoid all contact”. There is no conclusive data on that same database of why it is toxic. Perhaps more studies need to be done on this chemical. You should know that it is a chelating agent and a pH adjuster, in case that affects anyone in your household. I’ve listed the top 10 toxic kids cereals that contain this ingredient, so you can make your own decision about TSP.

Top 10 Toxic Kids Cereals

When it came to the listing “most toxic” cereals, we faced a challenge. Should we list those with the most sugar? The most dangerous levels of vitamin? Dyes? BHT? We could go on forever, but I checked some current ingredients and believe these are some of the worst offenders and why. All of these use extrusion processing, contain GMOs and are fortified. Sugars listed are the amount for 1 serving size in grams.

  1. Kellogg’s Fruit Loops: Sugar, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, modified food starch, annatto, BHT, artificial dyes including red #40, 10g of sugar. Fruit Loops with Marshmallows contains 13g.
  2. Kellogg’s Corn Pops: Sugar and molasses, hydrogenated vegetable oils, annatto, BHT, 9g of sugar.
  3. Kellogg’s Apple Jacks: Sugar, partially and fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, modified food starch, modified corn starch, artificial dyes including red #40, BHT, 10g of sugar.
  4. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks: Sugar, honey and dextrose, partially and fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, soy lecithin, BHT and topping our list with a whopping 15g of sugar.
  5. General Mills Lucky Charms: Sugar, corn syrup and dextrose, modified corn starch, trisodium phosphate, artificial dyes including red #40, artificial flavor, 10g of sugar.
  6. General Mills Boo Berry/Count Chocula/Franken Berry: Sugar, dextrose and corn syrup, modified corn starch, canola oil, BHT, trisodium phosphate, artificial flavor, artificial dyes including red #40, artificial flavor, 9g of sugar.
  7. General Mills Trix: Sugar, corn syrup, BHT, trisodium phosphate, artificial dyes including red #40, 10g of sugar.
  8. Post Foods Fruity Pebbles: Sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils, BHA, artificial flavor, artificial dyes including red #40, 9g of sugar.
  9. Cap’N Crunch CrunchBerries: Sugar, brown sugar, BHT, artificial flavor, artificial dyes including red #40, 11g of sugar. OOPS! All Berries contains 15g of sugar.
  10. Post Golden Crisps: Corn syrup, honey, caramel color. I had to add this one even though it’s not full of too many toxins because of the sugar content: a whopping 14g per serving!

These are some of the worst offenders, and I could have kept going. There were a few brands I wasn’t sure if they still made, like Reese’s Puffs – if they do, please avoid them! The rule, however, is simple: if it’s covered in sugar or has a “flavor” (chocolate, cinnamon, apple), it’s probably very high in sugar. If it’s colorful, it most likely contains artificial dyes, especially red #40, which is linked to ADHD. And if it’s a conventional brand, it most likely has additives and artificial flavors.

Kids Cereals: which to avoid, which to buy

For healthy children, the American Heart Association recommends a daily sugar intake of no more than 16.7g per day for preschoolers, 12.5g per day for children ages 4-8 and tweens and teens 21-33g . Naturally, these amounts are subject to their daily caloric intake. As you can see, 1 serving size bowl of these top 10 toxic kids cereals can contain more than all their sugar for the day – and kids commonly pour more in their bowl than the recommended serving.

Top 10 Kids Cereals to Try

We couldn’t complete this exposé without some healthy recommendations. I had a hard time finding any company that did not 100% use extrusion, although I read that Nature’s Path doesn’t use it in all their products. That said, we all know that breakfast cereal has to be kid-friendly. You may be lucky enough to have a child who’ll sit down to a bowl of muesli, but I don’t know any kids like that myself!

Here are my picks for organic brands that have kid-friendly cereals, including replacement cereals for Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Cheerios and Rice Krispies, as well as puffed rice and a berry option. The cereals with flavor tend to have higher sugar content but still lower than any of the conventional brands listed above. Sugars listed are the amount for 1 serving size in grams.

  1. Nature’s Path Fruit Juice Sweetened Corn Flakes: USDA organic and Non-GMO Project certified, they are also gluten free. Contains 3g of sugar.
  2. Nature’s Path Honey’d Corn Flakes: USDA organic and Non-GMO Project certified, they are also gluten free. Contains 4g of sugar.
  3. Nature’s Path Whole O’s: USDA organic and Non-GMO Project certified, they are also gluten free. Contains 4g of sugar.
  4. Envirokidz Peanut Butter Panda Puffs: USDA organic and Non-GMO Project certified, they are also gluten free. Contains 7g of sugar.
  5. Envirokidz Amazon Flakes: USDA organic and Non-GMO Project certified, gluten free and vegan, 6g of sugar.
  6. Erewhon Organic Corn Flakes: USDA organic and Non-GMO Project certified, these are also certified gluten free and are listed at “0” grams of sugar. Also available in Mixed Berry flavor, which contains 2g of sugar.
  7. Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice: USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project certified, these are also gluten free certified. Contain less than 1g of sugar.
  8. Barbara’s Original Puffins: Project Non-GMO certified, this cereal is wheat-free and only contains 5g of sugar.
  9. Cinnamon Puffins: Project Non-GMO certified, this cereal is vegan and has 6g of sugar.
  10. Snackimals Vanilla Blast: USDA Organic and Project Non-GMO certified, this cereal is vegan and has 7g of sugar.

A Better Breakfast

While cereal is what most American families think of as the best quick and easy breakfast, there are healthier options, even if your family is on the go every morning. Cereal can be served with nuts or unsweetened almond milk for protein and topped with fruit that has a lower glycemic index. You should also consider finding alternatives to cold cereal for your child’s breakfast. When my kids had to go gluten and dairy free, I found it much easier to switch to cooked meals such as scrambled eggs, gluten free French toast or peanut butter banana muffins, providing my kids with natural sources of protein to start their day.

Another healthy option includes oatmeal – look for organic brands and make it fresh, rather than serving it out of a packet. If you are pressed for time, try non-GMO yogurt topped with nuts or seeds and low sugar fruit. Or consider smoothies made with baby spinach, chia seeds and frozen fruit, like bananas or strawberries. (You can also drop in a dollop of nut butter, but watch the sugar.)

Looking to find it all in one place? You can shop for your family at Thrive Market for approved cereals, oatmeal and other breakfast items at prices that are 30-50% off retail. Let’s ditch the standard American breakfast of toxic kids cereals and create meals that are healthier, lower in sugar and give our kids the boost they need to succeed every day!

Disclosure: Bookieboo LLC has an affiliate relationship with Thrive Market. Bookieboo has also worked with numerous brands in the natural space, including Nature’s Path.

Need A More Complete Breakfast?

Still not sure where your favorite cereal may fall on the list? We’ve ranked breakfast cereals from bad to best in our extensive list below.

Bad

These cereals are full of GMOs, high amounts of sugar, and other ingredients such as food dyes. The top 10 worst cereals are all on the list below.

  • Alpen Cereal, Dark Chocolate
  • Alpen Cereal, Original
  • Arrowhead Mills Breadshop Blueberry ‘n Cream Cereal
  • Cap’N Crunch
  • Cap’N Crunch CrunchBerries
  • Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch
  • General Mills Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
  • General Mills Basic 4 Cereal
  • General Mills Boo Berry/Count Chocula/Franken Berry
  • General Mills Cheerios Protein Oats and Honey Cereal
  • General Mills Chex Cereal, Cinnamon
  • General Mills Chex Cereal, Honey Nut
  • General Mills Chex Cereal, Wheat
  • General Mills Chocolate Cheerios Cereal
  • General Mills Chocolate Chex Cereal
  • General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal
  • General Mills Cocoa Puffs Cereal
  • General Mills Cookie Crisp Cereal
  • General Mills Chex Corn Cereal
  • General Mills French Toast Crunch Cereal
  • General Mills Frosted Cheerios
  • General Mills Fruity Cheerios Cereal
  • General Mills Golden Grahams Cereal
  • General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios Cereal
  • General Mills Honey Kix Cereal
  • General Mills Kix Cereal
  • General Mills Lucky Charms
  • General Mills Nature Valley Baked Oat Bites Cereal
  • General Mills Nature Valley Blueberry Toasted Oats Muesli
  • General Mills Nature Valley Chocolate Oat Bites Cereal
  • General Mills Nature Valley Chocolate Oat Clusters Cereal
  • General Mills Nature Valley Cinnamon Granola Crunch
  • General Mills Nature Valley Cranberry Almond Protein Granola
  • General Mills Nature Valley Honey Oat Clusters Cereal
  • General Mills Nature Valley Maple Brown Sugar Granola Crunch
  • General Mills Nature Valley Oats ‘n Dark Chocolate Protein Granola
  • General Mills Nature Valley Oats ‘n Dark Chocolate Granola Crunch
  • General Mills Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey Granola Crunch
  • General Mills Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey Protein Granola
  • General Mills Nature Valley Original Toasted Oats Muesli
  • General Mills Nature Valley Peanut Butter Protein Granola
  • General Mills Nature Valley Peanut Butter ‘n Dark Chocolate Protein Granola
  • General Mills Oatmeal Crisp
  • General Mills Raisin Nut Bran Cereal
  • General Mills Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs Cereal
  • General Mills Total Cereal
  • General Mills Trix
  • General Mills Very Berry Cheerios
  • General Mills Wheaties Cereal
  • Heartland Granola, Fruit & Nut Harvest
  • Heartland Granola, Harvest Spice
  • Heartland Granola, Low Fat
  • Heartland Granola, Low Fat Raisin
  • Heartland Granola, Original
  • Heartland Granola, Raisin
  • Kay’s Naturals Apple Cinnamon Cereal
  • Kay’s Naturals French Vanilla Cereal
  • Kay’s Naturals Honey Almond Cereal
  • Kellogg’s All-Bran Bran Buds Cereal
  • Kellogg’s All-Bran Cereal
  • Kellogg’s Apple Jacks
  • Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies
  • Kellogg’s Corn Flakes
  • Kellogg’s Corn Pops
  • Kellogg’s Crispix Cereal
  • Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes
  • Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheat Bite Size Blueberry Muffin
  • Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats Bite Size Strawberry Delight
  • Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats Original
  • Kellogg’s Froot Loops
  • Kellogg’s Honey Smacks
  • Kellogg’s Krave Cereal, Chocolate
  • Kellogg’s Krave Cereal, Double Chocolate
  • Kellogg’s Krave Cereal, Milk Chocolate
  • Kellogg’s Mueslix
  • Kellogg’s Raisin Bran
  • Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Crunch Cereal
  • Kellogg’s Rice Krispies
  • Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats Cereal
  • Kellogg’s Smorz
  • Kellogg’s Special K Cereal, Chocolatey Delight
  • Kellogg’s Special K Cereal, Fruit and Yogurt
  • Kellogg’s Special K Cereal, Protein
  • Kellogg’s Special K Cereal, Red Berries
  • Kellogg’s Special K Cereal, Vanilla Almond
  • Malt-O-Meal, Colossal Berry Crunch
  • Malt-O-Meal Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys
  • Malt-O-Meal Cinnamon Toasters Cereal
  • Malt-O-Meal Cocoa Dyno Bites Cereal
  • Malt-O-Meal Coco Roos
  • Malt-O-Meal Cookies and Cream
  • Malt-O-Meal Crispy Rice Cereal
  • Malt-O-Meal Dyno-Bites Fruity Cereal
  • Malt-O-Meal Frosted Flakes
  • Malt-O-Meal Frosted Mini Spooners Cereal
  • Malt-O-Meal Golden Puffs Cereal
  • Malt-O-Meal Honey & Oat Blenders with Almonds Cereal
  • Malt-O-Meal Honey Nut Scooters Cereal
  • Malt-O-Meal Marshmallow Mateys
  • Malt-O-Meal Raisin Bran Cereal
  • Malt-O-Meal S’mores Cereal
  • Malt-O-Meal Tootie Fruities Cereal
  • Post Bran Flakes
  • Post Fruity Pebbles
  • Post Golden Crisps
  • Post Great Grains Cranberry Almond Crunch
  • Post Great Grains Crunchy Pecan
  • Post Great Grains Raisin, Date & Pecan Cereal
  • Post Honey Bunches of Oats, Crunchy Honey Roasted
  • Post Honey Bunches of Oats, Pecan & Maple Brown Sugar
  • Post Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds
  • Post Honey Bunches of Oats with Real Strawberries
  • Post Honeycombs
  • Post Selects Banana Nut Crunch Cereal
  • Post Selects Blueberry Morning Cereal
  • Post Shredded Wheat
  • Post Shredded Wheat ‘n Bran
  • Quaker Cereal Puffed Rice
  • Quaker Cereal Puffed Wheat
  • Quaker Cereal Vitaman
  • Quaker Corn Bran Crunch Cereal
  • Quaker Granola, Apple, Cranberry and Almond
  • Quaker Granola, Oats, Honey and Almond
  • Quaker Granola, Oats, Honey, Raisins, and Almond
  • Quaker Life Cereal, Cinnamon
  • Quaker Life Cereal, Original
  • Quaker Life Cereal, Pumpkin Spice
  • Quaker Life Cereal, Vanilla
  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares, Brown Sugar
  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares, Cinnamon
  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares, Golden Maple
  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares, Honey Nut
  • Quaker Quisp Cereal
  • Quaker Real Medleys Granola, Dark Chocolate Cranberry Almond
  • Quaker Real Medleys Granola, Summer Berry
  • Quaker Real Medleys Multigrain Cereal, Cherry Almond Pecan
  • Quaker Real Medleys Multigrain Cereal, Peach Apple Walnut
  • Quaker Real Medleys Supergrains Granola, Blueberry Pecan
  • Quaker Real Medleys Supergrains Granola, Cinnamon Apple Walnut
  • Signature Kitchens Cereal Bran Flakes
  • Signature Kitchens Cereal Corn Flakes
  • Signature Kitchens Cereal Crispy Rice
  • Signature Kitchens Cereal Multigrain Rasins Dates Pecans
  • Signature Kitchens Cereal Oats & Almonds
  • Signature Kitchens Cereal Oats & More With Honey
  • Signature Kitchens Cereal Raisin Bran Crunch
  • Signature Kitchens Cereal Rice Pockets
  • Signature Kitchens Cereal Shredded Wheat Bite Size
  • Signature Kitchens Cereal Shredded Wheat Bite Size Frosted
  • Signature Kitchens Cereal Toasted Oats
  • Signature Kitchens Cereal Toasted Oats Honey Nut
  • Signature Kitchens Cinnamon Cereal
  • Signature Kitchens Granola Low Fat
  • Signature Kitchens Granola Low Fat With Raisins
  • Signature Kitchens Honey Nut Toasted Oats Cereal
  • Signature Kitchens Live It Up Cereal
  • Signature Kitchens Muesli
  • Signature Kitchens Raisin Bran
  • Signature Kitchens Real Multigrain Cranberry Almond
  • Signature Kitchens Toasted Oats Cereal
  • Trader Joe’s Crunchy Cinnamon Squares Cereal
  • Trader Joe’s Honey Nut O’s Toasted Whole Grain Oats Cereal
  • Trader Joe’s Joe’s O’s Toasted Whole Grain Oats Cereal
  • Trader Joe’s Raisin Bran
  • Trader Joe’s Strawberry Yogurt O’s

Better

These cereals are a step up from the worst. They may contain less sugar or more natural ingredients, or be GMO free. However, they may still contain some of the ingredients that you might want to avoid.

  • Alpen Cereal, No Sugar Added
  • Arrowhead Mills All Natural Puffed Barley Cereal
  • Arrowhead Mills Puffed Corn Cereal
  • Arrowhead Mills Puffed Millet Cereal
  • Arrowhead Mills Puffed Rice Cereal
  • Arrowhead Mills Puffed Wheat Cereal
  • Arrowhead Mills Shredded Wheat
  • Arrowhead Mills Sweetened Shredded Wheat
  • Back to Nature Berry Sprouted Blend Cereal
  • Back to Nature Cereal, Honey Grains
  • Back to Nature Cereal, Oat Medley with Cinnamon Clusters
  • Back to Nature Cereal, Risin’ Raisin Blend
  • Back to Nature Granola, Almond Chia
  • Back to Nature Granola, Apple Blueberry
  • Back to Nature Granola, Apple Cinnamon
  • Back to Nature Granola, Banana Walnut
  • Back to Nature Granola, Chocolate Delight
  • Back to Nature Granola, Classic
  • Back to Nature Granola, Cranberry Pecan
  • Back to Nature Granola, Dark Chocolate Coconut
  • Back to Nature Granola, Maple Pecan
  • Back to Nature Granola, Peanut Butter
  • Back to Nature Granola, Sunflower & Pumpkin Seed
  • Back to Nature Granola, Vanilla Almond Agave
  • Back to Nature Sprout & Shine Gluten Free Cereal
  • Bakery on Main Gluten Free Bunches of Crunches Granola, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt
  • Bakery on Main Gluten Free Bunches of Crunches Superfood Granola, Coconut Cacao
  • Bakery on Main Gluten Free Fiber Power Granola, Cinnamon Raisin
  • Bakery on Main Gluten Free Fiber Power Granola, Triple Berry
  • Bakery on Main Gluten Free Granola, Apple Raisin Walnut
  • Bakery on Main Gluten Free Granola, Extreme Fruit & Nut
  • Bakery on Main Gluten Free Granola, Nutty Cranberry Maple
  • Bakery on Main Gluten Free Granola, Rainforest Banana Nut
  • Barbara’s Cinnamon Puffins
  • Barbara’s Dark Chocolate Cranberry Better Granola
  • Barbara’s High Fiber Cranberry
  • Barbara’s High Fiber Original
  • Barbara’s Honest O’s Multigrain
  • Barbara’s Honey Rice Puffins
  • Barbara’s Morning Oat Crunch Cinnamon
  • Barbara’s Morning Oat Crunch Original
  • Barbara’s Morning Oat Crunch Vanilla Almond
  • Barbara’s Multigrain Puffins
  • Barbara’s Multigrain Spoonfuls
  • Barbara’s Multigrain Squarefuls
  • Barbara’s Oats & Honey Better Granola
  • Barbara’s Original Puffins
  • Barbara’s Peanut Butter Puffins
  • Barbara’s Peanut Butter & Chocolate Puffins
  • Barbara’s Shredded Wheat
  • Bear Naked Granola, Banana Nut
  • Bear Naked Granola, Cacao & Cashew Butter
  • Bear Naked Granola, Chocolate
  • Bear Naked Granola, Cinnamon & Sunflower Butter
  • Bear Naked Granola, Fruit & Nut
  • Bear Naked Granola, Honey Almond
  • Bear Naked Granola, Maple Pecan
  • Bear Naked Granola, Original Cinnamon
  • Bear Naked Granola, Triple Berry
  • Bear Naked Granola, V’Nilla Almonds
  • Chappaqua Crunch Original Granola
  • Chappaqua Crunch Simply Granola
  • Chappaqua Crunch Simply Granola with Cranberries
  • General Mills Cheerios Ancient Grains Cereal Box
  • General Mills Cheerios Multi Grain Cereal
  • Kashi 7 Whole Grain Flakes Cereal
  • Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nuggets Cereal
  • Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs Cereal
  • Kashi GOLEAN Clusters Cereal, Vanilla Pepita
  • Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! Cereal
  • Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! Cereal, Chocolate
  • Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! Cereal, Honey Almond Flax
  • Kashi GOLEAN Original
  • Kashi GOLEAN Toasted Berry Crisp
  • Kashi Wheat Biscuit Cereal, Dark Cocoa Karma
  • Kind Banana Nut Clusters
  • Kind Cinnamon Oat Clusters with Flax Seeds
  • Kind Dark Chocolate Whole Grain Clusters
  • Maple Quinoa Clusters with Chia Seeds
  • Kind Maple Quinoa Clusters with Chia Seeds
  • Kind Oats & Honey Clusters with Toasted Coconut
  • Kind Peanut Butter Whole Grain Clusters
  • Kind Raspberry Clusters with Chia Seeds
  • Kind Vanilla Blueberry Clusters with Flax Seeds
  • Love Grown Foods Comet Crispies
  • Love Grown Foods Mighty Flakes, Bean
  • Love Grown Foods Mighty Flakes, Chocolate Joy
  • Love Grown Foods Mighty Flakes, Cranberry Almond
  • Love Grown Foods Mighty Flakes, Frosted
  • Love Grown Foods Oat Clusters, Apple Walnut Delight
  • Love Grown Foods Oat Clusters, Cocoa Goodness
  • Love Grown Foods Oat Clusters, Simply Oats
  • Love Grown Foods Oat Clusters, Sweet Cranberry Pecan
  • Love Grown Foods Oat Clusters, Raisin Almond Crunch
  • Love Grown Foods Polar Puffs
  • Love Grown Foods Power O’s, Chocolate
  • Love Grown Foods Power O’s, Honey
  • Love Grown Foods Power O’s, Strawberry
  • Love Grown Foods Power O’s, Original
  • Love Grown Foods Sea Stars
  • Peace Clusters & Flakes Cereal, Mango Peach Passion
  • Peace Clusters & Flakes Cereal, Wild Berry Crisp Low Fat
  • Peace Cereal Coconut Craze Granola
  • Peace Cereal Crispy Rice & Flakes Cereal, Blueberry Pomegranate
  • Peace Cereal Honey Flax Granola Cereal
  • Peace Cereal Maple Pecan
  • Peace Cereal Vanilla Almond
  • Post Grape Nuts
  • Purely Elizabeth Banana Nut Butter Grain Free Granola
  • Purely Elizabeth Blueberry Hemp Ancient Grain Granola
  • Purely Elizabeth Blueberry Hemp Ancient Grain Granola + Puffs Cereal
  • Purely Elizabeth Chocolate Sea Salt Probiotic Granola
  • Purely Elizabeth Coconut Cashew Grain Free Granola
  • Purely Elizabeth Cranberry Pecan Ancient Grain Granola
  • Purely Elizabeth Cranberry Pecan Ancient Grain Granola + Puffs Cereal
  • Purely Elizabeth Maple Walnut Probiotic Granola
  • Purely Elizabeth Original Ancient Grain Granola
  • Purely Elizabeth Original Ancient Grain Granola + Puffs Cereal
  • Purely Elizabeth Pumpkin Fig Ancient Grain Granola
  • Purely Elizabeth Pumpkin Fig Ancient Grain Granola + Puffs Cereal
  • Simple Truth Baobab Coconut Granola
  • Simple Truth Cranberry Apple Cinnamon Granola
  • Simple Truth High Protein Multigrain Granola
  • Simple Truth Honey Almond Flax Cereal
  • Simple Truth Mixed Berry Granola
  • Simple Truth Sweet Nut Granola
  • Trader Joe’s Almond Butter Granola, Crunchy
  • Trader Joe’s Just the Clusters Chocolate Almond Granola Cereal
  • Trader Joe’s Just the Clusters Ginger Almond & Cashew Granola Cereal
  • Trader Joe’s Just the Clusters Maple Pecan Granola Cereal
  • Trader Joe’s Just the Clusters Vanilla Almond Granola Cereal
  • Udi’s Gluten Free Granola
  • Udi’s Gluten Free Granola, Vanilla
  • Udi’s Natural Granola, Cranberry
  • Udi’s Natural Granola, Original
  • Udi’s Natural Granola, Au Naturel
  • Uncle Sam Skinner’s Raisin Bran, Whole Wheat Berry Flakes and Raisins
  • Uncle Sam Toasted Whole Wheat Berry Flakes & Flaxseed Original

Best

Cereals rated in the best category are organic. They contain no GMOs, synthetic pesticides, artificial colors or flavors, etc.

  • 18 Rabbits Organic Veritas Granola, Walnuts, Flax & Cacao Nibs
  • Ancient Harvest Organic Quinoa Flakes Cereal
  • Annie’s Organic Berry Bunnies Cereal
  • Annie’s Organic Cocoa Bunnies Cereal
  • Annie’s Organic Frosted Oat Flakes Cereal
  • Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free Cereal, Organic Maple Buckwheat Flakes
  • Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free Cereal, Organic Sweetened Rice Flakes
  • Arrowhead Mills Organic Cereal, Amaranth Flakes
  • Arrowhead Mills Organic Cereal, Kamut Flakes
  • Arrowhead Mills Organic Cereal, Puffed Kamut
  • Arrowhead Mills Organic Cereal, Spelt Flakes
  • Arrowhead Mills Organic Cereal, Sprouted Multigrain Flakes
  • Arrowhead Mills Organic Gluten Free Maple Buckwheat Flakes
  • Arrowhead Mills Organic Gluten Free Sprouted Corn Flakes
  • Arrowhead Mills Organic Oat Bran Flakes
  • Arrowhead Mills Organic Sprouted Granola, Apple & Ginger
  • Arrowhead Mills Organic Sprouted Granola, Maple & Cranberry
  • Arrowhead Mills Organic Sprouted Wheat Berry & Quinoa Flakes
  • Bakery on Main Gluten Free Organic Granola Sprouted Grains & Honey
  • Barbara’s Organic Brown Rice Crisps Cereal
  • Barbara’s Organic Corn Flakes Cereal
  • Barbara’s Organic Honest O’s Cereal, Original
  • Barbara’s Snackimals Cereals, Chocolate Crisp
  • Barbara’s Snackimals Cereals, Cinnamon
  • Barbara’s Snackimals Cereals, Vanilla Blast
  • Bitsy’s Brainfood Cereal for Kids, Fruit and Veggie 1,2,3
  • Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Grain, Kamut Cereal
  • Boulder Granola Vanilla Pecan Granola
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Cinnamon Crunch Cereal
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Fruitful O’s Cereal
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Graham Crunch Cereal
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Granola, Cinnamon Raisin Cereal
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Granola, Dark Chocolate Almond Cereal
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Granola, French Vanilla Almond
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Multigrain Square Cereal
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Oats & Honey Granola
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Purely O’s Cereal
  • Cinnamon Puffins
  • Envirokidz Amazon Flakes
  • EnviroKidz Gorilla Munch Cereal
  • Envirokidz Organic Gluten-Free Cereal, Cinnamon Jungle Munch
  • EnviroKidz Koala Crisp Cereal, Chocolate
  • Envirokidz Peanut Butter Panda Puffs
  • Erewhon Organic Crispy Brown Rice
  • Erewhon Organic Corn Flakes
  • Erewhon Organic Rice Twice
  • Evoke Classic Swiss Organic Muesli
  • Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal, Almond
  • Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Grain Cereal, Cinnamon Raisin
  • Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Grain Cereal, Golden Flax
  • Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal, Original
  • From The Fields Apricot Hazelnut Museli
  • From The Fields Chai Currant Oatmeal
  • From The Fields Chocolate Hazelnut Fig Granola
  • From The Fields Currant Granola
  • From The Fields Currant Rose Museli
  • From The Fields Gluten Free Original Granola
  • From The Fields Honey Cashew Vanilla Cereal
  • From The Fields Orange Walnut Spice Oatmeal
  • Giddy Up & Go Granola, Notoriously Nutty
  • Glutenfreeda Granola, Almond Maple Honey
  • Glutenfreeda Granola, Cranberry Cashew Honey
  • Glutenfreeda Granola, Raisin Almond Honey
  • Go Raw 100% Organic Chocolate Granola Cereal
  • Go Raw 100% Organic Live Granola Cereal
  • Health Valley, Oat Bran Flakes, Organic
  • Holy Crap Breakfast Cereal
  • Holy Crap Skinny B Breakfast Cereal
  • Kashi Heart to Heart Honey Toasted Oat Cereal
  • Kashi Heart to Heart Oat Flakes & Blueberry Clusters Cereal
  • Kashi Heart to Heart Warm Cinnamon Oat Cereal
  • Kashi Organic Autumn Wheat Whole Wheat Biscuits
  • Kashi Organic Berry Fruitful Whole Wheat Biscuits
  • Kashi Organic Cereal, Island Vanilla
  • Kashi Organic Cereal, Strawberry Fields
  • Kashi Organic Cinnamon Harvest Whole Wheat Biscuits
  • Kashi Organic Promise Cereal, Indigo Morning
  • Kashi Organic Promise Cocoa Coconut Kamut Khorasan Wheat Granola
  • Kashi Organic Promise Cranberry, Spelt and Flax Granola
  • Kashi Organic Promise Sprouted Grains Cereal
  • Kashi Organic Promise Sweet Potato Sunshine Cereal
  • Kashi Simply Maize Cereal
  • Living Intentions Cereal Radiant Raspberry Superfood
  • Nature’s Path Organic Crunchy Vanilla Sunrise, Gluten Free
  • Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus Flakes Cereal
  • Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus Granola Cereal, Vanilla Almond
  • Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus Maple Pecan Crunch
  • Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus Multibran Cereal
  • Nature’s Path Organic Fruit Juice Sweetened Corn Flakes
  • Nature’s Path Organic Gluten-Free Cereal, Honey’d Corn Flakes
  • Nature’s Path Organic Gluten-Free Cereal, Mesa Sunrise
  • Nature’s Path Organic Hemp Plus Granola Cereal
  • Nature’s Path Organic Heritage Flakes
  • Nature’s Path Organic Honey’d Corn Flakes
  • Nature’s Path Organic Love Crunch Premium Granola, Dark Chocolate Macaroon
  • Nature’s Path Organic Kamut Puffs
  • Nature’s Path Organic Multigrain Flakes Eco Pac
  • Nature’s Path Organic Optimum Power Blueberry Cinnamon Flax
  • Nature’s Path Organic Peanut Butter Granola Cereal
  • Nature’s Path Organic Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola
  • Nature’s Path Organic Qi’a Gluten-Free Superfood Chia, Buckwheat & Hemp Cereal, Cranberry Vanilla
  • Nature’s Path Organic Red Berry Flax Cereal
  • Nature’s Path Organic Rice Puffs Cereal
  • Nature’s Path Organic Smart Bran with Psyllium & Oatbran
  • Nature’s Path Organic Whole O’s
  • New England Naturals Organic Antioxidant Granola
  • New England Naturals Organic Gluten Free Crispy Fruity Cereal
  • New England Naturals Organic Omega Hemp and Flax Granola
  • O Organics Cereal Cinnamon Crunch
  • O Organics Cereal Corn Flakes
  • O Organics Cereal Frosted Flakes
  • O Organics Cereal Honey Flake & Oat Clusters
  • O Organics Cereal Honey Nut O’s
  • O Organics Cereal Multi Grain Squares
  • O Organics Cereal Peanut Butter Dots
  • O Organics Cereal Raisin Bran
  • O Organics Cereal Toasted O’s
  • O Organics Granola Chia Flax Quinoa
  • O Organics Granola French Vanilla Almond
  • O Organics Granola Oats & Honey
  • Peace Organic Flakes & Clusters Blueberry Walnut
  • Peace Organic Flakes & Clusters Coconut Chia Almond
  • Simple Truth Organic Apricot Coconut Granola
  • Simple Truth Organic Fruit & Nut Granola
  • Simple Truth Organic Honey Nut Toasted Oats Cereal
  • Simple Truth Organic Pomegranate Blueberry Chia Granola
  • Simple Truth Organic Pumpkin Seed Pecan Granola
  • Simple Truth Organic Toasted Oats Cereal
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Granny’s Apple Granola Cereal
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Mango Passion Granola Cereal
  • Two Moms Soul Sprout Sprouted Grain Free Cereal

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Leah Segedie is the Founder of Mamavation and Bookieboo, a blogger network. After losing over 100 lbs, she started a career mentoring women in health and since then has assisted in over 3,500 lbs lost via the Mamavation community. Leah and her work has been mentioned in Ladies Home Journal, Reader's Digest, Fitness, Women's Day, CNN, ABC, CBS, the O'Reilly Factor, AOL, Entrepreneur, and Yahoo to name a few. She works from home in her fuzzy slippers.
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Latest posts by Mamavation (see all)

2017-03-30T17:11:36-04:00 January 20th, 2015|Featured, Food|34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Laura Perkins January 21, 2015 at 7:32 am - Reply

    I recently discovered Power Os as an alternative to Cheerios as a finger food for my 15 month old. I’m now curious as to whether it is made using extrusion. How would I go about finding this information?

    • Khashina January 23, 2015 at 12:58 am - Reply

      Cheerios wasn’t on the list. What’s wrong with cheerios?

      • Leah Segedie January 23, 2015 at 12:21 pm - Reply

        Cheerios generic brand is not longer GMO, so we recommend them but just not as highly as the organic ones that don’t have glyphosate sprayed on them.

        • Adam mckinnon March 29, 2017 at 7:16 am - Reply

          I’m sorry but you are mistaken outs are a man-made hybrid. All oats have traces of glyphosphate no matter if they are even organic they still have traces of It.

          • Stacie September 14, 2017 at 8:25 am

            I grew up on all these “bad cereals” like the supposed healthy ones in the 80s & 90s and I am fine!

  2. Jennifer January 21, 2015 at 11:13 am - Reply

    You mentioned that Annetto is unhealthy and I’ve noticed it’s in our cheese. Can you recommend a healthy cheese? Thank you!

    • Megan January 21, 2015 at 5:02 pm - Reply

      It is what they add to make the cheese yellow. Just buy white cheese – white cheddar, white american, etc. They taste the same as the yellow versions.

    • Heather January 24, 2015 at 3:37 pm - Reply

      Exactly what Megan said below, but make sure it’s Non-GMO cheese…Rememer whatever the cow ate goes into the cheese that we eat, and the cow most likely ate GMO corn…

  3. Reesa Lewandowski January 21, 2015 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Ugh no wonder why my daughter loves Fruit Loops so much. Thanks for the alternatives. I will definitely keep them in mind my next trip to the grocery store!

  4. Joli Tripp January 23, 2015 at 12:36 am - Reply

    Excellent graphic! Thanks for taking the guesswork out of buying healthy cereal.

  5. Chris January 24, 2015 at 11:34 am - Reply

    It’s obvious that anything in box isn’t good for you or your kids. With all of the illnesses out there on the rise like autism, ADHD, diabetes, obesity etc. why would you feed your kids this crap? Just because you have been eating it all of these years doesn’t make it good for you. I can guarantee that cereal 20 year sago isn’t the same as cereal today. I couldn’t eat any of it if I wanted to. And I certainly don’t feed my kids any of it. It’s an expensive box of sugar crap that does nothing nutritional for your child!

  6. Heather January 24, 2015 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    Even though the cereals are non-gmo, they’re still highly processed…Why not just eat Steel Cut Oats which are minimally processed but take a lot less time cooking than groats…

    • Leah Segedie January 24, 2015 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      We recommended an alternative breakfast that would be superior. We agree with you. Cereal isn’t the type of food that should be everyday.

    • Stacie September 14, 2017 at 8:27 am - Reply

      Haha! I bet those taste great!

  7. Suzanne January 25, 2015 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    I bought the Envirokidz Peanut Butter Panda Puffs a couple of days ago and even my husband loves them! I’m surprised at how little sugar there is.

    • Leah Segedie January 29, 2015 at 1:11 am - Reply

      My husband LOVES those too! And he has a sweet tooth.

  8. Christy January 25, 2015 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    I would love to get my kids away from cereal completely, but with a child who is allergic to eggs and nuts, cereal is certainly the easiest (and most demanded) breakfast option. We make our own granola bars. Any other creative ideas for healthy breakfast options (without eggs or nuts)?

    • Gina Badalaty January 26, 2015 at 11:46 am - Reply

      It is a challenge, Christy. How about egg free pancakes? You can sub in flax surry but it does take practice. Smoothies and yogurt with granola. Toast or egg free muffins with sun butter? Breakfast is a challenge here too, so I’m with you!

  9. Katie January 28, 2015 at 7:55 am - Reply

    These are all cold cereals. Are there any hot breakfast cereals that you recommend? My kids are currently on a Cream of Wheat kick. I don’t buy the ones with flavors. We do buy the box of Instant Cream of Wheat though. They make it up and then put some of our raw organic honey that we make here at home and sometimes some nutmeg and/or cinnamon, sometimes they put fresh fruit cut up on it as well. How would this rank in your list of healthy? I am guessing the Cream of Wheat is not all that great for them but I figured that it was at the very least not covered in food dye, sugar, and/or HFCS.

  10. Nora January 28, 2015 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    We have tried some of the organic cereals, and they lasted one bite for a 11 year old used to the bad cereals. The result being that I spent $5-$6 dollars for one box of cereal that sits in the cupboard. I appreciate the healthfulness of the cereals, but it would be really nice if they didn’t taste like cardboard. I would love to buy them if my family would eat them!

    • Leah Segedie January 29, 2015 at 1:13 am - Reply

      Try the Nature’s Path. They are sweet tasting and are designed to be a “better for you” brand without losing the sweetness. They ARE processed though, so if you are looking for perfection that isn’t it.

  11. Chelsea February 19, 2017 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    This is the dumbest article with the dumbest comments I have ever read. There are more things in life that are bad for you then a box of cereal! I’m so glad I allow my kids to be kids and enjoy a box of sweet cereal! Let me get back to my box of Apple Jacks now. Yum!

  12. Matthew March 21, 2017 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    First off…The sugars in cereal are no worse for you than the sugars found in fruit. Your body doesn’t know the difference between “Natural” sugar, or corn based sugars. BHA and BHT are essential in heart health. GMO’s have been proven without a reasonable doubt to not be harmful to humans. Stop reading WebMD and find documentation from reliable source so that you don’t publish things that gullible people will read and think it’s accurate when it isn’t.

  13. April March 22, 2017 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    ^^^amen. The fear-mongering is ridiculous. Most mom’s are stressed out enough trying to fit the model of the perfect parent. You are perpetuating this unrealistic ideal. GMOs are safe. TSP is necessary for acid/base adjustment. You should have posted your affiliation with Nature’s Path and Thrive Market at the very top of the blog so moms (and dads) directed here could save the time they would have wasted reading this personal gain motivated nonsense.

  14. Kim Langhorne April 1, 2017 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    I’ve never read any source that identifies any benefits to eating GMOs. WTF would anyone in their right mind want to knowingly eat foods that are banned in other countries? Worse, any food where it’s genetic structure has been altered by man. That’s not natural. Why do US Foods NOT contain warning labels like some other countries? To boast about feeding your children sugary cereal ladened with artificial dyes, flavoring, and chemicals is dumb. Research the detriment those additives cause. It doesn’t rob them of their childhood, it deters them from possible chronic illness or disease, and keeps a doctor from prescribing harmful medications making them sicker.

  15. Kim Langhorne April 1, 2017 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Food Choices, Fed Up, Hungry for Change are some really great documentaries to check out. If this doesn’t change the way you see food after watching then I don’t know what will..

  16. Covina Jackson April 7, 2017 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    Omg. I used to eT all these cereals. My son eats a few of these. Witch may explain the adhD signs. He has been acting up in school. And it’s mostly in the morning when he does

    • Leah Segedie April 26, 2017 at 6:32 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry to hear that Covina. I ate most of these cereals as a child too.

  17. Heather April 23, 2017 at 1:14 am - Reply

    Do you know if there is glyphosate in Joe’s O’s? My son acts out when he eats them. Thank you.

    • Leah Segedie April 26, 2017 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      To my knowledge Joe’s Os hasn’t been tested by the Detoxproject.org for glyphosate yet. But I can add that to their list! We know them well. BUT in general wheat has been testing high for glyphosate contamination. Wheat and oats are a big issue.

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