Does Your Breakfast Cereal Contain Deadly Trans Fats?

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“How to Pick a Breakfast Cereal”

by Diana Mirkin


The most healthful breakfast is whole grain cereal. If you’re trying to lose weight, control cholesterol or diabetes, or just need a lot of energy, your best bet is a hot cooked cereal of whole grains, such as oatmeal; or barley, brown rice or wheat berries cooked and served like oatmeal.

Flavor it with raisins or other dried fruits, cinnamon, and perhaps a handful of nuts such as pinenuts.

If you prefer cold cereal, you need to check the list of ingredients carefully. The FIRST ingredient should be a whole grain.

Then scan through the entire list and if you see the words “partially hydrogenated,” put the box back on the shelf.

We recommend that you avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils (or “trans fats”), and they still show up in many cereals (see the list below.)

Once you’ve eliminated all the brands made with refined grains or partially hydrogenated oils, check for ADDED sugars (you want little or none) and fiber (you want a lot.)

Raisins or other dried fruits will add a lot of grams of sugar to the listing on the nutrition panel; they are not distinguished from added sugars, so you can only estimate the amounts.

The fiber content listed on the nutrition label can be confusing because it’s based on serving size, and very light cereals (such as puffed wheat) show little fiber per serving, but an acceptable amount when you adjust for weight.

Cereals made from bran (the outer covering removed from whole grains) will have higher fiber content than cereals made from whole grains (which have the germ and starchy parts of the grains as well as the fiber), but they can be hard to digest.

2007 Update: I’m delighted to note that partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) have been taken out of many cereals. The old list included 56 brands with PHO’s; the new list has only 13!

Most of the popular General Mills, Post and Quaker cereal brands no longer have them. Kelloggs is the one major cereal maker that has not yet removed them from many of their leading products; hopefully they will respond to consumer pressure soon.

Is it really whole grain?


Manufacturers have also responded to the call for more whole grains in our diet, so you will find a lot more choices that meet my recommendation of “whole grains as the first ingredient”.

However, many that claim to be “whole grain” still include refined grains.

You may need to do some detective work to see what you’re getting. One-ingredient whole grain cereals (i.e., shredded wheat, puffed wheat, oatmeal) are sure bets.

If you see milled corn, corn meal, wheat flour or rice in the list of ingredients, you’re getting a mixture of whole and refined grains.


Cereals made from Whole Grains

(No trans fats, little or no added sugars; but check the list of ingredients — recipes can change.)

  • Cheerios – General Mills

  • Chex, Wheat or Multi Grain – General Mills

  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch – General Mills

  • Cinnamon Grahams – General Mills

  • French Toast Crunch – General Mills

  • Golden Grahams – General Mills

  • Grape Nuts – Post

  • Grape Nut Flakes – Post

  • Great Grains, all varieties – Post

  • Healthy Choice Toa

    sted Brown Sugar Squares – Kelloggs

  • Kashi (all varieties) – Kashi Company

  • Life – Quaker

  • Mini-Wheats, all varieties – Kelloggs

  • Muesli – Familia

  • Nutri-Grain, all varieties – Kelloggs

  • Oatmeal Crisp, all varieties – General Mills

  • Oatmeal Squares – Quaker

  • Organic Healthy Fiber Multigrain Flakes – Health Valley

  • Puffed Wheat – Quaker and others

  • Shredded Wheat, all varieties and sizes – Post and others

  • South Beach Diet Toasted Wheats

  • Total – General Mills

  • Uncle Sam – U.S. Mills

  • Weetabix

  • Wheaties – General Mills

  • Barbara’s, Cascadian Farm, Mother’s, Nature’s Promise and other smaller brands that specialize in “healthful” cereals (but always check the list of ingredients).


All Bran or High Bran Cereals

(no trans fats, little or no added sugars. )


  • 100% Bran – Post

  • All Bran, all varieties – Kelloggs

  • Bran Flakes – Post

  • Chex, Multi-Bran – General Mills

  • Complete Wheat Bran Flakes – Kelloggs

  • Complete Oat Bran Flakes – Kelloggs

  • Cracklin’ Oat Bran – Kelloggs

  • Crunchy Corn Bran – Quaker

  • Fiber 7 Flakes – Health Valley

  • Fiber One – General Mills

  • Fruit & Bran – Post

  • Granola, Low Fat – Kelloggs

  • Oat Bran – Quaker

  • Oat Bran Flakes – Health Valley

  • Oat Bran Flakes with Raisins – Health Valley

  • Organic Bran with Raisins – Health Valley

  • Raisin Bran – Kelloggs

  • Raisin Bran Flakes – Health Valley

  • Raisin Bran, Whole Grain Wheat – Post

  • Raisin Nut Bran – General Mills

  • Shredded Wheat ‘n’ Bran – Post

  • Total, Raisin Bran – General Mills

  • Weight Watchers Flakes ‘n’ Fiber

  • 100% Natural Granola – Quaker

Not Recommended

Cereals that Contain Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Trans Fats)*

Many also are primarily refined grains and high in added sugars.


  • Basic Four – General Mills

  • Cocoa Krispies – Kelloggs

  • Corn Pops – Kelloggs

  • Froot Loops – Kelloggs

  • Golden Crisp – Post

  • Granola with Raisins, Low Fat – Kelloggs* (see note below)

  • Healthy Choice Mueslix – Kelloggs

  • Healthy Choice Almond Crunch with Raisins – Kelloggs

  • Healthy Choice Low Fat Granola with Raisins – Kelloggs

  • Mini-Swirlz – Kelloggs

  • Smacks – Kelloggs

  • Smart Start – Kelloggs

  • Special K – Kelloggs

Not Recommended

Cereals Made from Refined Grains

Many of these also contain a lot of added sugar

  • Apple Jacks – Kelloggs

  • Cap’n Crunch, all varieties – Quaker

  • Chex, Rice or Corn – General Mills

  • Cocoa Frosted Flakes – Kelloggs

  • Cocoa Blasts – Quaker

  • Cocoa Pebbles – Post

  • Cocoa Puffs – General Mills

  • Cookie Crisp/Chocolate Chip – General Mills

  • Corn Pops – Kelloggs

  • Corn Flakes – Kelloggs and others

  • Count Chocula – General Mills

  • Crispix – Kelloggs

  • Frosted Flakes – Kelloggs

  • Fruity Pebbles – Post

  • Honey Bunches of Oats – Post

  • Honey Comb – Post

  • Honey Nut Clusters – General Mills

  • Kix – General Mills

  • Lucky Charms – General Mills

  • Product 19 – Kelloggs

  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs – General Mills

  • Rice Krispies, all varieties – Kelloggs

  • Total Corn Flakes – General Mills

  • Puffed Rice – Quaker

*When I checked these cereals on 1/26/07, Kelloggs’ Low Fat Granola with Raisins contained partially hydrogenated oils while their plain Low Fat Granola had none.

I hope this means that Kelloggs is following the lead of the other cereal makers and that PHO’s will soon be gone from all of their products. Meanwhile, protect yourself and check the list of ingredients! Cereal recipes change.

Courtesy of Dr. Gabe Mirkin



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