Is Special K Cereal Healthy?

Special K cereal, manufactured by Kellogg, comes in a variety of flavors in addition to the original version. You can buy low-fat granola and high-protein versions, as well as blueberry, red berry, cinnamon pecan, vanilla almond and fruit and yogurt variations. The nutritional value varies by the type of Special K you're eating.

Special K cereal can be a healthy breakfast. Credit: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

Calories

The original Special K supplies 120 calories in a 1-cup serving. Adding 1/2 cup of nonfat milk adds 40 calories to the total count. Adding 1/2 cup of whole milk adds 75 calories. Either way, the total calorie count for a bowl of Special K with milk is low, between 160 and 215 calories. If you're eating an average 2,000-calorie diet, Special K provides around 6 percent of your daily calorie intake.

Carbohydrates

Most of the calories in original Special K come from complex carbohydrates. One serving without milk contains 23g of carbohydrates, with only 4g from simple sugars. Two simple sugars, sugar and high fructose corn syrup, are in Special K. Rice, the first ingredient listed, wheat gluten and wheat germ make up the complex carbohydrate ingredients. A serving supplies 8 percent of your daily total carbohydrate requirement.

Proteins and Fats

One serving of original Special K contains 6g of protein, or about 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance of 60g, as recommended by the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. Dried whey is the main protein source in the cereal; adding nonfat milk adds 4g of protein. One cup of the cereal has only 0.5g of fat and no saturated or trans fats, the worst types of fats for your heart.

Vitamins and Minerals

Special K, like many breakfast cereals, is fortified with vitamins and minerals. The original Special K has vitamins A, C and E, iron and B-complex vitamins niacin, folic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, B-6 and B-12 added. One serving also supplies 220mg of sodium and 20mg of potassium.

Considerations

Original Special K cereal is low in simple sugars and fat, making it a healthy breakfast choice for most people. One bowl supplies a fairly small number of calories compared to your daily requirement. If you're eating three meals a day and consume between 1,500 and 2,000 calories per day, you need between 500 and 667 calories at each meal, less if you snack between meals. A bowl of original Special K contains no fiber. Fiber reduces your cholesterol and promotes good digestive health, and the Institute of Medicine recommends 25g a day for women and 38g for men. Adding fruit to your bowl of Special K would add both calories and needed fiber.

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