Breakfast Cereal Compared: Cereals from Post, Kellogg's & General Mills

image descriptionPosted by ACalorieCounter image descriptionNovember 9th

So, what did you eat for breakfast this morning? More likely than not, it was cereal. In fact, cereal isn't even just a breakfast food. You could have eaten it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack in between. You could have eaten it in a bowl with milk, in a bowl without milk, or just by taking handfuls right out of the box. Cereal is one of those anytime foods. And it makes sense too. It's as quick and easy as can be, and it just so happens that most cereals taste fantastic.

Of course, not all breakfast cereal is equal. Despite coming in similar sized boxes, with similar shaped pieces, for similar priced prices, there are quite a few differences between most cereals. Some claim to be high in whole grains and fiber, to be a good source of vitamins and minerals, and to be good for your heart and cholesterol. Others however just want you to see their "wacky" cartoon characters and "fun" shapes and colors. Even still, the biggest differences lie not on the front of the cereal boxes, but rather on the back. It is there, my friends, where the important differences can be found.

To help show this, I've put together a side-by-side comparison of over 50 of the most popular breakfast cereals from Post, Kellogg's, General Mills and more to see how they all stack up against each other in terms of their nutritional content and ingredients. Also included at the end are my picks for the best and worst cereals.

So, if you've only been eating cereal based on how yummy it is, here is your chance to start taking nutrition into account as well.

*NOTE #1* The table below is sortable. Clicking a category (calories, fat, carbs, etc.) will sort the data in that column from lowest to highest. Clicking it again will sort it from highest to lowest.

*NOTE #2* Any questions you may have about anything you see in this cereal comparison is most likely answered at the bottom of this very page. Be sure to check it out for clarifications on anything that may seem unclear.

Breakfast Cereals Compared

Breakfast Cereal Serving Size
(cups)
Calories Total Fat
(g)
Saturated Fat
(g)
Carbs
(g)
Fiber
(g)
Sugar
(g)
Protein
(g)
Contains Trans Fat Contains HFCS
Froot Loops
(Kellogg's)
1 120 1 0.5 26 1 13 1 YES YES
All-Bran
(Kellogg's)
0.5 80 1 0 23 10 6 4 NO YES
Apple Jacks
(Kellogg's)
1 120 0.5 0 28 1 15 1 NO YES
Corn Flakes
(Kellogg's)
1 100 0 0 24 1* 2 2 NO YES
Corn Pops
(Kellogg's)
1 120 0 0 28 1* 14 1 YES NO
Crispix
(Kellogg's)
1 110 0 0 25 1* 3 2 NO NO
Raisin Bran Crunch
(Kellogg's)
1 190 1 0 45 4 20 3 NO YES
Eggo Cereal Maple Syrup
(Kellogg's)
1 120 1.5 0.5 22 2 13 2 YES YES
Frosted Flakes
(Kellogg's)
0.75 110 0 0 27 1 11 1 NO YES
Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size
(Kellogg's)
24 biscuits 200 1 0 48 6 12 6 NO YES
Honey Smacks
(Kellogg's)
0.75 100 0.5 0 24 1 15 2 YES NO
Smorz
(Kellogg's)
1 120 2 0.5 25 1* 13 1 YES YES
Mini-Swirlz Cinnamon Bun
(Kellogg's)
1 120 2 0 25 1 12 2 YES NO
Product 19
(Kellogg's)
1 100 0 0 25 1 4 2 NO YES
Rice Krispies
(Kellogg's)
1.25 120 0 0 29 0 3 2 NO YES
Rice Krispies Treats Cereal
(Kellogg's)
0.75 120 1.5 0 26 0 9 1 YES YES
Smart Start Healthy Heart
(Kellogg's)
1.25 230 3 0.5 46 5 17 7 NO YES
Special K
(Kellogg's)
1 120 0.5 0 22 1* 4 7 NO YES
Special K Red Berries
(Kellogg's)
1 110 0 0 25 1 10 3 NO YES
Frosted Krispies
(Kellogg's)
0.75 110 0 0 27 0 12 1 NO YES
Wheaties
(General Mills)
0.75 100 0.5 0 22 3 4 3 NO NO
Trix
(General Mills)
1 120 1.5 0 28 1 13 1 NO YES
Lucky Charms
(General Mills)
0.75 110 1 0 22 1 11 2 NO NO
Fiber One
(General Mills)
0.5 60 1 0 25 14 0 2 NO NO
Cheerios
(General Mills)
1 100 2 0 20 3 1 3 NO NO
Yogurt Burst Cheerios Vanilla
(General Mills)
0.75 120 1.5 0.5 24 2 9 2 NO NO
Rice Chex
(General Mills)
1 100 0.5 0 23 0 2 2 NO NO
Wheat Chex
(General Mills)
0.75 160 1 0 38 5 5 5 NO NO
Corn Chex
(General Mills)
1 120 0.5 0 26 1 3 2 NO NO
Honey Nut Cheerios
(General Mills)
0.75 110 1.5 0 22 2 9 3 NO NO
Multi Grain Cheerios
(General Mills)
1 110 1 0 23 3 6 2 NO NO
Total
(General Mills)
0.75 100 0.5 0 23 3 5 2 NO NO
Reese's Puffs
(General Mills)
0.75 120 3 0.5 22 1 12 2 NO NO
Oatmeal Crisp Crunchy Almond
(General Mills)
1 220 5 0.5 46 4 16 6 NO YES
Kix
(General Mills)
1.25 110 1 0 25 3 3 2 NO NO
Golden Grahams
(General Mills)
0.75 120 1 0 26 1 11 2 NO NO
Franken Berry
(General Mills)
1 130 1 0 29 1 14 1 NO NO
Count Chocula
(General Mills)
0.75 110 1 0 23 1 12 1 NO NO
Cookie Crisp
(General Mills)
0.75 100 1 0 22 1 11 1 NO NO
Cocoa Puffs
(General Mills)
0.75 110 1.5 0 23 1 12 1 NO NO
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
(General Mills)
0.75 130 3 0.5 25 1 10 1 NO NO
Basic 4
(General Mills)
1 200 3 0.5 43 3 13 4 YES NO
Life
(Quaker)
0.75 120 1.5 0 25 2 6 3 NO NO
GOLEAN Cereal
(Kashi)
1 140 1 0 30 10 6 13 NO NO
Grape Nuts
(Post)
58 grams 200 1 0 48 7 4 6 NO NO
Shredded Wheat
(Post)
47 grams 200 1 0 37 6 0 5 NO NO
Cocoa Pebbles
(Post)
30 grams 110 1.5 1 26 3 11 1 YES NO
Fruity Pebbles
(Post)
30 grams 110 1 1 26 3 11 1 YES NO
Banana Nut Crunch
(Post)
59 grams 240 6 0.5 44 4 12 5 NO NO
Honey Bunches Of Oats
(Post)
30 grams 120 1.5 0 25 2 6 2 NO NO
Honey-Comb
(Post)
32 grams 120 1 0 27 2 10 2 NO NO
Oreo O's
(Post)
27 grams 110 2 0.5 22 1 13 1 YES YES
Waffle Crisp
(Post)
30 grams 120 2.5 0 25 1 12 2 YES NO
*Fiber content was listed as "less than 1 gram."
**Above nutrition information does NOT include milk.

The Best Breakfast Cereals

Here are the cereals that came across as being the best (aka most healthy). When picking these cereals, I used the following requirements. First and foremost, they had to contain absolutely no trans fat. Second, they had to contain no saturated fat. Third, they had to contain little to no sugar. Then, after that, I started taking fiber content into account (higher the better) and added the cereals that contained a good amount of fiber (yet still fit the first three guidelines) to this list too.

I also paid attention to protein content as well as whether the cereal contained any HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), although I did not treat these two quite as importantly as I did the above guidelines. The final thing I took into consideration was the ingredients and whether the cereal was made from whole grains (good) or refined grains (not so good). So, in no specific order, here are my picks for the best breakfast cereals:

  • Cheerios (General Mills)
  • Shredded Wheat (Post)
  • Fiber One (General Mills)
  • Grape Nuts (Post)
  • Wheaties (General Mills)
  • Total (General Mills)
  • GOLEAN Cereal (Kashi)
  • All-Bran (Kellogg's)
  • Wheat Chex (General Mills)

The Worst Breakfast Cereals

Here are the cereals that came across as being the worst (aka most unhealthy). First, any cereal that contained trans fat was automatically added to this list, as trans fat is easily the most unhealthy ingredient a cereal could have. Second, I looked at sugar content. Every cereal that contained 10 or more grams of sugar per serving (which didn't come from actual fruit) made this list as well.

Now, does that mean a cereal with 9 grams of sugar is healthy? Of course not. I just used 10 as the sugar cut off number when listing the absolute worst cereals in this comparison. If the above cereals are the best, and these are the worst, whatever isn't on either list falls somewhere in between. You should use what you've learned here along with your own good judgement when deciding if you should eat one of those cereals. So moving on, in no specific order, here are my picks for the worst breakfast cereals:

  • Honey Smacks (Kellogg's)
  • Corn Pops (Kellogg's)
  • Apple Jacks (Kellogg's)
  • Franken Berry (General Mills)
  • Trix (General Mills)
  • Eggo Cereal Maple Syrup (Kellogg's)
  • Basic 4 (General Mills)
  • Smorz (Kellogg's)
  • Oreo O's (Post)
  • Froot Loops (Kellogg's)
  • Cocoa Puffs (General Mills)
  • Count Chocula (General Mills)
  • Waffle Crisp (Post)
  • Reese's Puffs (General Mills)
  • Mini-Swirlz Cinnamon Bun (Kellogg's)
  • Frosted Krispies (Kellogg's)
  • Cocoa Pebbles (Post)
  • Fruity Pebbles (Post)
  • Cookie Crisp (General Mills)
  • Frosted Flakes (Kellogg's)
  • Golden Grahams (General Mills)
  • Lucky Charms (General Mills)
  • Rice Krispies Treats Cereal (Kellogg's)

Breakfast Cereal Comparison FAQ

Just in case anything in the above comparison was a little unclear, here is a quick Q&A that will hopefully clear it all up.

What does "Contains Trans Fat" mean?

All of the breakfast cereals compared have their trans fat content listed as "Trans fat: 0 grams." However, in some cases, some of these cereals are flat out lying to you and actually do contain trans fat. Let me explain...

By law, the FDA only requires food companies to list trans fat content if their food contains 0.5 grams or more of it in one serving. That means if the food contains exactly 0.49999 grams of trans fat per serving, they get to say their food contains 0 grams of trans fat. Yup, it's insanely stupid. But, that's how it is. That means if you eat a few servings of a food like this, you could end up eating a few grams of trans fat without even knowing it. And even if you just eat the 1 serving, ANY trans fat is still too much trans fat, no matter what the amount.

Luckily though, there is a way to detect if a food (in this case cereal) contains any trans fat, even if the label says it doesn't. Just look at the ingredients. If you see the term "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated," that means there is indeed trans fat present in that food. So, for this breakfast cereal comparison, I literally read through each cereal's list of ingredients to see if they REALLY contained any trans fat, and a surprising number of them did. The ones that did have a "YES" listed in the "Contained Trans Fat" column, and the ones that legitimately did NOT contain any trans fat whatsoever have a "NO."

What is HFCS?

HFCS stands for high fructose corn syrup. If you don't know what it is, you can learn more about it here, here and here.

What's the deal with the serving sizes? Why are some in grams instead of cups?

Most of the breakfast cereals used cups as the unit of measure of their serving size. However, there were a bunch that did not. So, I was forced to list their serving size in whatever unit they gave it in (which in most cases was grams).

Why are some of the supposed healthy cereals high in sugar?

Here's something to keep in mind when looking at sugar content in this comparison. Some cereals are high in sugar because they are typical junk-food type cereals. Others however are high in sugar because they contain fruit. Obviously there is a bit of a difference here as the sugar in Oreo O's is a little different than the sugar in Raisin Bran. Just something to keep in mind.

I'm a little confused about your "best" and "worst" cereal lists. Can you explain them a little better?

A quick clarification. There were over 50 cereals in this comparison, and a good portion of them didn't make the best or worst list. What that means is that none of those cereals fit the description of being either the VERY best, or the VERY worst. This doesn't mean they are healthy, and this doesn't mean they are unhealthy. It just means that they aren't at the very top in either category.

So, for example, there are some cereals not listed on the "best" list that are still alright, and there are some cereals not listed on the "worst" list that are still not-so-good. Since making an "in the middle" list seemed like a silly idea, I did my best to provide enough nutrition information throughout this comparison to help you make informed decisions on your own about those other cereals.

Where did you get the nutritional content of all of these cereals from?

All of the nutrition data used in this comparison came directly from the official web site of each cereal brand. So, if anything seems screwy, take it up with them. Also keep in mind that the cereal brands themselves included a little disclaimer with their nutrition information that went something along the lines of "This nutrition information could change. In case this happens, check the package in the store before you buy it for the most current ingredients and nutrition facts." So, I guess this cereal comparison carries the same disclaimer.