Are Cheerios Healthy?

Breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day. However, many manufacturers produce one of the most popular breakfast choices, cereals, with excessive amounts of sugar. Fortunately, not all cereals are unhealthy. Original Cheerios' nutrition features heart-healthy fiber, a variety of vitamins and minerals and just a single gram of sugar per cup.

Original Cheerios have fiber, vitamins, and various minerals. (Image: colnihko/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

Unlike many other cereals, Cheerios can be considered healthy. However, for the most nutritional benefits, choose cereals like Original Cheerios over Cheerios products with lots of added sugars.

Cheerios: A High-Fiber Cereal

Cheerios is made by General Mills, a company that makes a variety of popular cereals, including Wheaties, Chex, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Puffs and Trix. There are a variety of Cheerios products you can purchase, including:

  • Original Cheerios
  • Blueberry Cheerios
  • Maple Cheerios
  • Cheerios Oat Crunch
  • Peach Cheerios
  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • Multi Grain Cheerios
  • Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
  • Chocolate Cheerios
  • Fruity Cheerios
  • Frosted Cheerios
  • Banana Nut Cheerios
  • Cheerios + Ancient Grains
  • Cheerios Protein Cinnamon Almond
  • Cheerios Protein Oats and Honey
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios
  • Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch
  • Pumpkin Spice Cheerios
  • Very Berry Cheerios

Regardless of the flavor, Cheerios is marketed as a healthy cereal as it's primarily made with whole-grain oats. This means that all Cheerios products are high-fiber cereals. Unlike other cereals, Cheerios products don't use artificial colorings or flavorings. Most products are also gluten free.

Cheerios: Nutrition Facts

Original Cheerios is essentially a sweetened, oat-based cereal. Original Cheerios' ingredients are whole-grain oats, corn starch, sugar, salt, tripotassium phosphate and mixed tocopherols. Original Cheerios has a variety of different vitamins and minerals. Each cup (28 grams) of Original Cheerios has:

  • 10 percent of the daily value (DV) for vitamin A
  • 10 percent of the DV for vitamin C
  • 10 percent of the DV for calcium
  • 45 percent of the DV for iron
  • 10 percent of the DV for vitamin D
  • 25 percent of the DV for thiamin (vitamin B1)
  • 25 percent of the DV for niacin (vitamin B3)
  • 25 percent of the DV for vitamin B6
  • 50 percent of the DV for folic acid (vitamin 9)
  • 25 percent of the DV for vitamin B12
  • 10 percent of the DV for phosphorus
  • 8 percent of the DV for magnesium
  • 5 percent of the DV for potassium
  • 25 percent of the DV for zinc

Each cup of Original Cheerios also has 3 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat and 20 grams of carbohydrates. Out of these carbohydrates, 3 grams come from dietary fiber and 1 gram comes from sugar. This cereal also has a small amount of riboflavin (2 percent of the DV).

Eating Cheerios With Milk

Although you can eat Cheerios on its own or as part of a homemade trail mix, most people eat Cheerios with milk. Milk is a healthy, nutrient-rich dairy product that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming. In fact, you can consume up to 3 cups of milk per day as part of a healthy diet. In every cup of Original Cheerios (28 grams) and 0.5 cup of skim milk (125 milliliters), you can find:

  • 15 percent of the DV for vitamin A
  • 10 percent of the DV for vitamin C
  • 25 percent of the DV for calcium
  • 45 percent of the DV for iron
  • 25 percent of the DV for vitamin D
  • 30 percent of the DV for thiamin (vitamin B1)
  • 10 percent of the DV for riboflavin (vitamin B
  • 25 percent of the DV for niacin (vitamin B3)
  • 25 percent of the DV for vitamin B6
  • 50 percent of the DV for folic acid (vitamin 9)
  • 30 percent of the DV for vitamin B12
  • 20 percent of the DV for phosphorus
  • 10 percent of the DV for magnesium
  • 11 percent of the DV for potassium
  • 30 percent of the DV for zinc

Eating Original Cheerios with skim milk means you'll consume 150 calories per serving, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of protein and 2 grams of fat. Of course, these values may vary, depending on whether you're consuming skim milk or whole milk, 2 percent milk, 1 percent milk or soy milk. Since the Dietary Guidelines for Americans classifies all of these as dairy products, any of them can contribute toward your daily dairy intake.

Cheerios Products and Additional Sugars

Although Original Cheerios is certainly a healthy product, not all Cheerios products are equally healthy. Several types of Cheerios have added sugars that make them much less healthy compared to the original product. For instance, products like Frosted Cheerios not only use sugar but corn syrup and brown sugar syrup. This gives one serving of Frosted Cheerios 9 grams of sugar per 3/4 cup (27 grams). Other products, like Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch, use an array of sweeteners, resulting in another sugary offering with 9 grams of sugar per 3/4 cup (27 grams) serving. Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch contains sugar, corn syrup, molasses, brown sugar syrup and honey.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends consuming no more than 10 percent of your daily calories from sugar. This means that overall, 9 grams of sugar per 3/4 cup serving isn't that much. However, if you're consuming products like these regularly, you should be cautious of your sugar intake. According to an October 2015 study in the Journal of Nutrition, sweeteners like honey, sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup can all increase your triglyceride levels. If you have impaired glucose tolerance, these sweeteners can also increase your glycemic and inflammatory responses.

You should, in particular, minimize your sugar intake from ingredients like corn syrup. According to a June 2015 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming products that contain corn syrup may increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. Corn syrup can be found in a wide variety of products, including candies, baked goods, ice cream and sweetened beverages. Ultimately, this means that, while many Cheerios products can be considered to be healthy in moderation, Original Cheerios is one of the healthiest products.

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