The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes choose whole-grain, high-fiber and low-sugar cereals. Be careful, however, when choosing “whole-grain cereals.” Many manufacturers know that consumers are looking for whole-grain products and they may advertise products as containing whole grains when there’s very little whole grain in them. If the source of whole grain is not listed as the first ingredient, then it probably contains very little.
Choose whole-grain ingredients that appear first on the food label. Brown rice, whole oats, whole rye, whole wheat, wild rice, bulgur, triticale, millet, quinoa and sorghum are examples of types of whole grains in cereals. The first ingredient in Post Grape-Nuts cereal is whole-grain wheat flour. The first ingredient in Post Shredded Wheat cereal is whole wheat, and for the Weetabix biscuit cereal the first ingredient is whole wheat. A number of other brands such as Barbara’s, Cascadian Farms, Bob’s Red Mill, Kashi and Nature’s Path also make whole-grain cereals.
Eating foods high in fiber helps to regulate your blood sugar levels by slowing down the digestive process. Fiber is found in whole grains. The American Diabetes Association recommends choosing cereals that contain 3 grams or more of fiber per serving. Post Shredded Wheat contains 6 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Post Grape-Nuts contains 7 grams of dietary fiber per serving, and Weetabix contains 4 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
Stay away from whole-grain cereals with added sugars. Choose cereals with a very low amount of sugar — less than 6 g, recommends the American Diabetes Association. Post Shredded Wheat contains 0 g of sugar per serving. Post Grape-Nuts contains 5 g of sugar per serving, and Weetabix contains 2 g of sugar per serving. Whole-grain breakfast cereals will usually contain the lowest amounts of sugar or none at all.
What Cereals are Recommended for People With Diabetes?
1. Kellogg’s Raisin Bran (1 cup)
- 190 calories
- 1 grams fat (0 grams saturated)
- 7 grams fiber
- 19 grams sugars
The concept here is terrific: Whole grain flakes sweetened with real fruit. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s really happening. These raisins, as you can see, are all wearing little sparkly jackets of sugar. Add that to the three forms of sugar in the flakes — corn syrup, HFCS, and invert sugar — and you’ve got a serious sugar buzz in the making. If you want the real deal, you have to make it yourself. Stick to basic wheat flakes and add your own, unadulterated fruit.
Eat instead: Kellogg’s All-Bran Complete Wheat Flakes (1 cup) with a tablespoon of raisins 145 calories
0.5 grams fat (0 grams saturated)
7 grams fiber
12 grams sugars
2. Post Golden Crisp (1 cup) 145 calories
- 0 grams fat
- < 1 grams fiber
- 18.5 grams sugar
Here’s the immutable law of the cereal aisle: When you see a cartoon character on the package, expect to find a mountain of sugar in the box. This is how food processors win children over at an early age; they get them addicted to sugar. But just as bad as the high sugar count is the dearth of fiber. That means this sugar will pass through your stomach faster than Road Runner and transform you — or your child — into an out-of-control Tasmanian Devil. Switch to Honeycomb and you’ll cut your calorie load by more than 40 percent and drop your sugar intake back into the safe zone.
Eat instead: Post Honeycomb (1 cup) 85 calories
0.5 fat (0 grams saturated)
0.5 grams fiber
6.5 grams sugars
3. Quaker Natural Granola with Raisins (1 cup) 420 calories
- 12 grams fat (7 grams saturated)
- 6 grams fiber
- 30 grams sugars
Granola is one of the world’s most misguided “health” foods. Sure it boasts a commendable fiber count, but in order to transform it from whole oats to granola, Quaker packs this stuff with a candy bar’s worth of sugar in the forms of brown sugar and honey. Add that to the raisins and you’ve got the same amount of sugar in one cup of this stuff as you’ll find in an entire Snicker’s bar. And to crisp it, Quaker relies on coconut oil, which is comprised almost entirely of saturated fatty acids. Eat a couple cups of this so-called health food and you’ve just wiped out 60 percent of your day’s saturated fat recommendation.
Eat instead: Quaker Brown Sugar Oatmeal Squares (1 cup) 210 calories
2.5 grams fat (0.5 grams saturated)
5 grams fiber
10 grams sugars
4. General Mills Reese’s Puffs
- 160 calories
- 4 grams fat (1 grams saturated)
- 1.5 grams fiber
- 16 grams sugars
Why is it that nobody raises an eyebrow when a candy company makes the plunge into the cereal aisle? Answer: Because with brands like Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, and Frosted Flakes, cereal is already indistinguishable from candy. But again, if you’re going to indulge in a sweet cereal, you can still be smart about it. Kix pairs a decent hit of fiber with a modest calorie load. Stick this on the table and you’ll appease both finicky children and their health-conscious parents.
Eat instead: General Mills Honey Kix (1 cup) 96 calories
1 grams fat (0 grams saturated)
2.5 grams fiber
5 g grams sugars