Is Honey Bunches of Oats a Healthy Cereal?

For a quick breakfast or snack, nothing beats a bowl of cereal with cold milk. With its sweet and crunchy clusters, Honey Bunches of Oats is a fan favorite, but its high sugar content makes it closer to a dessert than a healthy breakfast.

A healthy breakfast cereal with fat-free milk gives a boost of nutrients.
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Tip

Honey Bunches of Oats is not very healthy due to its high sugar content.

Added Sugar Isn't So Sweet

Although Honey Bunches of Oats has some healthful ingredients, such as whole grains, it has too much added sugar to be considered healthy. Nutrition food labels list ingredients in order of amounts, from greatest to least. The first ingredient on the list for Honey Bunches of Oats Toffee Almond Granola is whole-grain rolled oats. That's a good start.

But the second ingredient is cane sugar. There is also molasses, barley malt and honey, all sources of added sugar. In fact, four out of the 12 ingredients — 30 percent — are sweeteners.

In one serving, which is three-fourths cup, there are 16 grams of sugar, 15 of which are added sugars. That's more sugar than an ice cream sandwich, according to USDA data. Not so sweet.

The consumption of added sugars has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. The amount of sugar in a serving of Honey Bunches of Oats Toffee Almond Granola is more than half of the American Heart Association's recommended daily limit of 100 calories from added sugars per day for women and more than a third of the 150-calorie limit recommended for men.

It's the same story with other varieties of Honey Bunches of Oats. They all contain more added sugars than you should eat in a meal. If you eat other foods with added sugars during the day, you are very likely to exceed the recommended limit.

Read more: 15 Reasons to Kick Sugar

Read the Label

The truth is, most packaged cereals are high in added sugars because that is what appeals to consumers' taste buds. But if you're concerned about your weight and overall health, it's in your best interest to be more discerning about what you pick up off the shelf.

Become a label reader. First, look at the nutrition facts label for added sugars. If there are more than 3 grams of added sugar, put the box back on the shelf. Ideally, choose a product with no added sugar — they do exist although they may be hard to find.

Further, don't be fooled by the ingredients list. According to the University of California San Francisco, there are more than 60 names for sugar, including brown rice syrup, barley malt, dextrose and maltose. And, natural sweeteners like honey and agave aren't any better for you than regular sugar.

Read more: 4 Cereals That Are Terrible for You (and 5 Better Options)

Expand Your Options

Cereal's an old standby, and it's good in a pinch. However, there are more nutritious breakfast options out there, and they aren't much more laborious to prepare than a bowl of cereal. A bowl of plain low-fat Greek yogurt with fresh berries is high in fiber and protein, two dietary components that can help satisfy you and keep you feeling full for longer.

Overnight oats is another quick, nutritious option. The night before, combine whole oats with chia seeds, sliced banana, fresh blueberries and almond milk in a mason jar or any type of container. Put it in the fridge and in the morning, just heat and eat. It's just as good cold.

When you have a little more time, a spinach omelet with a slice of whole-grain toast and some fresh berries is really worth the extra few minutes you put into preparation. Rich in protein, fiber and healthy fats, it beats Honey Bunches of Oats any morning of the week.

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