How Healthy Is Your Cereal?

An ABC News poll shows that more people start their day with cereal than any other breakfast.

But not all cereals are created equal.

ABC News Medical Contributor and nutritionist Dr. David Katz talked about why some cereals do not live up to their marketing slogans.

"Breakfast of Champions"


Serving Size: 1 cup

Calories: 107

Fiber: 3g

Sugars: 4.2 g

Sodium: 218 mg

The doctor's diagnosis: Has almost as much salt per serving as you would expect to find in potato chips or pretzels. General Mills said, "Potato chips and pretzels do not carry the nutrition profile of cereals...Wheaties are packed with vitamins and minerals…low in excellent source of whole grain…" But Dr. Katz says that potato chips and pretzels do not claim to be the breakfast of champions.

The Doctor Prescribes: Nature's Path Optimum

Nature's Path Optimum

Serving size: 1 cup

Calories: 190

Fiber: 10g

Sugars: 16g

Sodium: 200mg

The doctor's diagnosis: Calorie for calorie, this cereal provides twice the fiber and just about half the sodium as Wheaties and the only fat it contains comes from seeds.

"Heart Healthy"

Honey Nut Cheerios

Serving size: 1 cup

Calories: 120

Fiber: 2g

Sugars: 11g

Sodium: 210mg

The doctor's diagnosis: Lots of sugar and salt with little fiber, but it's free of any harmful fats.

The doctor prescribes: Kashi's Heart to Heart

Kashi's Heart to Heart

Serving size: ¾ cup

Calories: 110

Fiber: 5 g

Sugars: 5 g

Sodium: 90 mg

The doctor's diagnosis: Has twice the fiber, and less than half the sodium of Honey Nut Cheerios.

Kids' Cereal

There are many cereals marketed specifically toward kids, but Katz said this is almost like pouring milk over candy. He said most of the cereals have virtually no fiber, but have a huge helping of sugar and salt along with colorings and flavorings.

Cereal makers disagree. Here's what some of them had to say:

Quaker Oats: "Breakfast provides the fuel kids need to help them power through their days..."

Kellog: "Breakfast cereals are a positive choice for consumers of all ages who want to achieve a healthy lifestyle."

Katz says the cereal makers didn't disagree with his diagnosis, they just changed the subject.

Not all kids cereals are bad. Some give the kids the "taste they want" along with the nutrition. The doctor prescribes Barbara's Puffins which has kid-friendly flavors from cinnamon to peanut butter, and is rich in whole-grain goodness and fiber, low in salt and added sugar and free of artificial flavor and color enhancers.