Surprise! The 20 Unhealthiest Cereals

Breakfast really is an important meal. It’s the first fuel your body gets for the day, which is one of the reasons I find myself gravitating away from boxed cereals and toward untouched grains and oats I can decorate myself. I’m definitely the crazy in the cereal aisle that stands there comparing the labels of two or three boxes at a time. But I’m not obsessing over the calories, I’m actually scouring the ingredient list, the saturated fat content and the sugar content. It’s a grim aisle, my friends.

That’s why I was curious to read The Daily Beast’s list of the “20 Unhealthiest Cereals.” It was in slideshow format, so I started with a quick click-through. After about five cereals, I was pretty confused. Kashi made the list? Where’s the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the Reese’s Puffs, the Lucky Charms? The unhealthiest cereal turned out to be Quaker’s “100% Natural” Raisin Granola Cereal. Seems odd.

It turns out, the cereals were scored using very interesting criteria: the “Good Guide Health Grade.” This is a measurement of three aspects of “health” and involves consideration of the following:

Physical Health:

  • does the product contain trans fats, which contribute to heart disease?
  • does this product have a high level of sodium, which can lead to heart disease and stroke?
  • does the product contain a high amount of sugar, increasing your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease?
  • does the product contain a high level of saturated fat, which can lead to heart disease?

Environmental Health:

  • does this company contribute in large quantities to air pollution?
  • does this company score low on reducing climate change?
  • does this company preserve water?

Societal Health:

  • does this company have low levels of customer satisfaction?
  • does this company have poor ethical policies and performance?
  • does this company give to charities?

The results are quite shocking. For example:

  • Quaker takes the top two spots for worst cereals based on their ethical policies, saturated fat content, and contributions to global warming.
  • Kashi, even though it scored well in its conservation of resources and localism, had a cereal with so much sugar that it made the list.
  • The most frequent offender? Post. They’re the lowest rated company with the most cereals on the list, largely because of sugar content and air pollution, but also based on customer satisfaction. In fact, Post is the lowest rated company based on their lack of effort to avoid air pollution.

The study suggests that we consider health as both an internal and external concept and focus more holistically on the health of our communities and the environment rather than just our own hearts and lungs. Most of the cereals on this list have substitutes produced by more conscious companies or can easily be re-created at home. Try it out!

Take a look at the 20 Unhealthiest Cereals List here [The Daily Beast].



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Categories: Food


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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2 Comments on “Surprise! The 20 Unhealthiest Cereals”

  1. October 27, 2011 at 1:12 am #

    This is so weird! I usually just have a bowl of oats in the morning, and now I’m glad I do. Thank you for sharing!

    • October 27, 2011 at 9:04 am #

      I know, it brought a lot of issues to my attention that I never really considered. Oats are the best anyway, you can dress them up any way you want! That’s half the fun 😉

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