Did you know: Honey Bunches of Oats have more processed sugar than actual honey? It’s not too surprising, really. Many “healthy-looking” foods are not as healthy as they first seem. Today, let’s take a close look at whether Honey Bunches of Oats are good for you.
Honey Bunches of Oats are made with whole-grain wheat and oats, which provide moderate fiber of 2g per serving. However, they also have 8g to 9g of added sugar per serving. That is four times the sugar of Cheerios. Because of the sugar, Honey Bunches of Oats are not the healthiest cereal.
Below, I’ll compare the sugar and fiber content of Honey Bunches of Oats to other popular cereals, and I’ll answer whether it’s a good choice for weight loss. Then I’ll do an extended comparison of Honey Bunches of Oats vs Cheerios, to see which is better.
Are Honey Bunches of Oats Good for You?
Here are the 7 questions I’ll be answering about Honey Bunches of Oats nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead to that section—or just keep scrolling to read them all:
- What Are the Ingredients in Honey Bunches of Oats?
- Do Honey Bunches of Oats Have Added Sugar?
- Are Honey Bunches of Oats a Good Source of Fiber?
- Do Honey Bunches of Oats Have Protein?
- Are Honey Bunches of Oats Processed?
- Will Honey Bunches of Oats Help You Lose Weight?
- Are Honey Bunches of Oats Healthier Than Cheerios?
1. What Are the Ingredients in Honey Bunches of Oats?
Let’s start by looking at what Honey Bunches of Oats are actually made of. We’ll be checking 3 popular flavors. I’ll share my thoughts below the table:
|Honey Bunches of Oats Flavors||Ingredients|
|With Almonds||Corn, Whole Grain Wheat, Sugar, Whole Grain Rolled Oats, Almonds, Rice, Canola Oil, Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Corn Syrup, Salt, Molasses, Honey, Caramel Color, Barley Malt Extract, Cinnamon, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Annatto Extract (color). BHT added to preserve freshness. [Added Vitamins and Minerals.]|
|Honey Roasted||Corn, Whole Grain Wheat, Sugar, Whole Grain Rolled Oats, Brown Sugar, Rice, Canola Oil, Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Corn Syrup, Salt, Whey (from Milk), Malted Corn and Barley Syrup, Wildflower Honey, Caramel Color, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Annatto Extract (Color). BHT added to to preserve freshness. [Added Vitamins and Minerals.]|
|With Real Strawberries||Corn, Sugar, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Rolled Oats, Rice, Dried Strawberries, Canola Oil, Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Corn Syrup, Salt, Molasses, Honey, Caramel Color, Barley Malt Extract, Strawberry Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavor. BHT added to to preserve freshness. [Added Vitamins and Minerals.]|
Here’s what I notice from these ingredients:
- Honey Bunches of Oats have whole grains. Whole grains provide fiber, which has many health benefits. It also helps keep you full longer than refined grains. That said, Honey Bunches of Oats aren’t 100% whole grain like some other cereals. So, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
- Honey Bunches of Oats have added sugar. Actually, they have sugar and other ingredients like corn syrup, molasses, honey, and brown sugar. All together, it adds up to 8g or 9g of sugar per serving. That’s pretty high. More detail about how it compares to other cereals below.
- Honey Bunches of Oats have added vitamins and minerals. These include iron, zinc, vitamin D, and a mix of B vitamins (including folic acid). Actually, some flavors have 90% of the “daily value” of iron per serving, which is pretty high. So, that’s a little bonus.
- Honey Bunches of Oats are not strictly vegan. Most vegans don’t eat honey, which is in this cereal. Some flavors also have milk ingredients.
Overall, it’s great that Honey Bunches of Oats have real whole grains. But all the added sugar is a bit concerning to me. In the next section, let’s take a closer look at the sugar content of this cereal.
2. Do Honey Bunches of Oats Have Added Sugar?
Honey Bunches of Oats have quite a lot of added sugar, with around 8g or 9g per serving, depending on the flavor. That is about double the sugar of Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies. However, Honey Bunches of Oats still have less sugar than Frosted Flakes or Froot Loops.
The sweetness of Honey Bunches of Oats may be delicious—but it comes at a cost. The American Heart Association recommends a limit of only 25g of sugar per day for women and 36g per day for men.
And keep in mind: No added sugar is needed for human health. Really, the healthiest diet would likely just have natural sugar from fruit and whole foods. So for me personally, any amount of “added sugar” is a negative.
Here’s a table comparing the sugar content of many popular cereals, including Honey Bunches of Oats flavors:
|Cereal||Serving Size||Total Sugars||Added Sugar|
|Cheerios||1 1/2 cup (39g)||2g||2g|
|Corn Flakes||1 1/2 cup (42g)||4g||4g|
|Froot Loops||1 1/3 cup (39g)||12g||12g|
|Frosted Flakes||1 cup (37g)||12g||12g|
|Frosted Mini-Wheats||25 biscuits (60g)||12g||12g|
|Grape Nuts||1/2 cup (58g)||5g||0g|
|Honey Bunches of Oats: With Almonds||1 cup (42g)||9g||8g|
|Honey Bunches of Oats: Honey Roasted||1 cup (41g)||9g||8g|
|Honey Bunches of Oats: With Real Strawberries||1 cup (41g)||11g||9g|
|Multi-Grain Cheerios||1 1/3 cup (39g)||8g||8g|
|Raisin Bran||1 cup (59g)||17g||9g|
|Rice Krispies||1 1/2 cup (40g)||4g||4g|
|Shredded Wheat||1 1/3 cup (60g)||0g||0g|
|Special K||1 1/4 cup (39g)||5g||4g|
As you can see, Honey Bunches of Oats are not quite the highest-sugar cereal here. Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, and Raisin Bran all have more total sugar per serving. But you can also see, there are cereals with much lower sugar (if that’s a priority of yours).
The added sugar in Honey Bunches of Oats comes from a mix of sugar, corn syrup, honey, molasses, and even brown sugar, depending on the flavor. But in all flavors, there is more sugar than honey. So, maybe the name should really be “Sugar Bunches of Oats”!
3. Are Honey Bunches of Oats a Good Source of Fiber?
Honey Bunches of Oats have moderate fiber content, with 2g of fiber per 1-cup serving, or about 5g of fiber per 100g of cereal. This is about double the fiber of Corn Flakes or Special K. However, it is only about half the fiber of Cheerios.
Here is a table showing exactly how Honey Bunches of Oats compare to several other popular cereals for fiber content:
|Cereal||Fiber per 100g|
|Honey Bunches of Oats||4.8g|
(Note: Most figures were extrapolated from smaller serving sizes, so they are not exact.)
The fiber content does not vary much between the different flavors of Honey Bunches of Oats that I checked. All of them have 2g of fiber per 1-cup serving.
As you can see, Honey Bunches of Oats are by no means the highest-fiber cereal… But thanks to including some whole grains, they do have some fiber.
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4. Do Honey Bunches of Oats Have Protein?
Honey Bunches of Oats have 3g of protein per 1-cup serving. However, if you’re eating Honey Bunches of Oats with milk of some sort, it could have 11g or more of protein per serving. This is moderate protein content.
None of the ingredients in Honey Bunches of Oats are very high in protein, but there’s still a bit of protein from the grains and other ingredients. About 7% of Honey Bunches of Oats’ calories come from protein.
Obviously, your selection of milk can impact how much protein is in your cereal, too. If you’re choosing a plant-based milk, then soy milk or pea milk will likely have the most. Almond milk and rice milk are usually low in protein.
As someone who does a bit of bodybuilding and who loves cereal, I have a bonus cereal protein tip. Here it is: Mix protein powder into your milk before you pour it on your cereal. This simple change can turn cereal into a decently high-protein meal—while keeping it easy, quick, and delicious.
5. Are Honey Bunches of Oats Processed?
Honey Bunches of Oats have processed ingredients like refined sugar, corn syrup, and canola oil. However, they also have whole grains. In each serving, some of the carbs come from whole grains, but about 25% of the carbs come from added sugar, depending on the flavor.
Some flavors of Honey Bunches of Oats also have other healthy whole-food ingredients like almonds or strawberries. But again, this is alongside processed ingredients like sugar, corn syrup, and canola oil.
Really, Honey Bunches of Oats are one of the many food products today that have both healthy and unhealthy ingredients. Most people would consider it a “processed food,” but it’s not nearly as bad as ultra-processed junk foods.
6. Will Honey Bunches of Oats Help You Lose Weight?
Honey Bunches of Oats are an okay food to include in a weight-loss diet, but they’re not completely ideal. They have a moderate amount of fiber to help fill you up—but they also have empty calories, with over 30 calories of added sugars per serving.
By itself, a few servings of Honey Bunches of Oats will not make or break your weight loss diet. Weight loss depends on your overall diet and lifestyle.
Eating whole grains like those included in Honey Bunches of Oats can help you feel satisfied on fewer calories, making it easier to lose weight. But Honey Bunches of Oats is not 100% whole grain like some other cereals. And ideally, you’d also focus on lower-sugar options.
For that reason, even better weight-loss cereals would likely be shredded wheat, Grape Nuts, Cheerios, or oatmeal. Eating those, you’d likely feel fuller for longer, on fewer calories. If they’re too bland, you can add some fruit or other sources of healthy sweetness.
You can also aid your weight loss journey with your choice of milk. Did you know that unsweetened almond milk is only about 30 calories per cup? That’s only ~25% of the calories of 2% cow’s milk!
In the end, as long as you’re burning more calories than you’re eating each day/week overall, you should be able to lose weight—whether those calories include Honey Bunches of Oats or not.
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7. Are Honey Bunches of Oats Healthier Than Cheerios?
Cheerios are generally considered healthier than Honey Bunches of Oats, due to the sugar and fiber content. Honey Bunches of Oats only have about half the fiber of Cheerios, while having four times the added sugar. Both cereals have about the same sodium content.
Let’s look a bit closer at how these cereals compare in each area:
- Fiber: Cheerios win. Honey Bunches of Oats have moderate fiber content, but that’s nothing compared to Cheerios. If you look at fiber per 100g of cereal, Cheerios has about double of Honey Bunches of Oats.
- Sugar: Cheerios Win. Cheerios are relatively low in sugar, with just 2g of sugar per serving. Meanwhile, Honey Bunches of Oats have 8g or 9g depending on the flavor, which is pretty high.
- Sodium: Tie. The sodium content of Honey Bunches of Oats varies a little bit by flavor, but the flavors I checked were 170mg to 190mg. Cheerios have 190mg of sodium per serving. So these cereals are about equal in sodium.
Of course, if you’re vegan or gluten-free, then Honey Bunches of Oats are also a no-go because of the honey and wheat. Cheerios is the default winner in that case. But yeah, Cheerios seem to be the healthier cereal in general.
However, keep in mind that Honey Nut Cheerios are not as healthy as normal Cheerios. So if you were comparing Honey Bunches of Oats vs Honey Nut Cheerios, it would be harder to say which is healthier. Neither one is as healthy as regular Cheerios.
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