Some “multigrain” foods are a bit of a scam. They get associated with whole grains, but some of them are actually a blend of processed grains. Others just have a bunch of added sugar. So today let’s look at Multi-Grain Cheerios specifically: Are they healthy?
Multi-Grain Cheerios are made with five different whole grains, so they have a good amount of fiber (3g per serving). However, they also have 8g of added sugar per serving, which is four times that of regular Cheerios. Because of the added sugar, Multi-Grain Cheerios are not the healthiest option.
Below, I’ll dig into the details of Multi-Grain Cheerios ingredients and nutrition. I’ll answer whether it’s a good cereal for weight loss, and we’ll compare the sugar and fiber to other popular cereals. We’ll also answer what is the healthiest type of Cheerios you can eat!
Are Multi-Grain Cheerios Good for You?
Here are the seven questions I’ll be answering about Multi-Grain Cheerios nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead to that section—or just keep scrolling to read them all:
- What Are the Ingredients in Multi-Grain Cheerios?
- Do Multi-Grain Cheerios Have Added Sugar?
- Are Multi-Grain Cheerios a Good Source of Fiber?
- Are Multi-Grain Cheerios Refined Carbs?
- Will Multi-Grain Cheerios Help You Lose Weight?
- Are Multi-Grain Cheerios Healthier Than Regular Cheerios?
- What Is the Healthiest Type of Cheerios?
1. What Are the Ingredients in Multi-Grain Cheerios?
Let’s start by discussing what Multi-Grain Cheerios are actually made of. I’ll share my analysis below:
Multi-Grain Cheerios Ingredients: Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Corn, Sugar, Corn Starch, Corn Bran, Whole Grain Rice, Whole Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Millet, Brown Sugar Syrup, Salt, Tripotassium Phosphate, Color (caramel color and annatto extract). Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshness. Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium Carbonate, Zinc and Iron (mineral nutrients), A B Vitamin (niacinamide), A B Vitamin (calcium pantothenate), Vitamin C (sodium ascorbate), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (thiamin mononitrate), A B Vitamin (folic acid), Vitamin A (palmitate), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3.
Here’s what I notice from these ingredients:
- Multi-Grain Cheerios have 5 different whole grains. Some “multigrain” products are actually made of multiple processed grains—and that’s not much to be excited about. But Multi-Grain Cheerios are legitimately made from 5 different whole grains.
- Multi-Grain Cheerios have added sugar. Actually, they have “sugar” and “brown rice syrup,” which is also basically just sugar. And together, it adds up to more sugar than I’d expect—8 grams per serving! More on sugar below.
- Multi-Grain Cheeries have caramel color. According to Consumer Reports, certain types of “caramel color” in food may contain a carcinogen called 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI). Due to ambiguous labeling practices, it’s unclear whether the caramel color in Multi-Grain Cheerios is of this type or not.
- Multi-Grain Cheerios have added vitamins and minerals. This is only a small benefit. Most people are probably getting these nutrients from other foods anyway, and most of them would be better absorbed from whole foods. But it may provide some benefit.
Overall, it’s great that Multi-Grain Cheerios have real whole grains. But the prominence of 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.
- What Are the 5 Grains in Multi-Grain Cheerios? The five grains in Multi-Grain Cheerios are whole grain oats, whole grain corn, whole grain rice, whole grain sorghum, and whole grain millet.
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2. Do Multi-Grain Cheerios Have Added Sugar?
Multi-Grain Cheerios have 8 grams of added sugar per serving (1 1/3 cup or 39g). That is about four times the sugar found in regular Cheerios or twice the sugar in Corn Flakes.
I was honestly surprised to see how much added sugar is found in Multi-Grain Cheerios. I knew that regular Cheerios were actually quite low in sugar, with only 2g per serving. But this Multi-Grain version has a lot more.
Here’s a table comparing the sugar content of many popular cereals, including Multi-Grain Cheerios (bolded):
|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|
|Grape Nuts||1/2 cup (58g)||5g||0g|
|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, Multi-Grain Cheerios are by no means the highest-sugar cereal. Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, and Raisin Bran all have considerably more sugar.
But you can also see that there are many cereal options with lower sugar if that’s a priority of yours.
3. Are Multi-Grain Cheerios a Good Source of Fiber?
Multi-Grain Cheerios have about 3 grams of fiber per serving (1 1/3 cup or 39g). This is about the same as regular Cheerios or just slightly less. It is more than three times the amount of fiber in Corn Flakes or Special K.
Here is a table showing exactly how Multi-Grain Cheerios compare to several other popular cereals for fiber content:
|Cereal||Fiber per 100g|
As you can see, Multi-Grain Cheerios are by no means the highest-fiber cereal… But it’s a relatively high-fiber choice, thanks to being made from a blend of whole grains.
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4. Are Multi-Grain Cheerios Refined Carbs?
Multi-Grain Cheerios contain both whole grains and refined carbs. In each serving, most of the carbs come from whole grains, but about 25% of the carbs come from added sugar, and a small amount of carbs also come from processed grain ingredients like corn starch.
I know this is an inconveniently complex answer. But such is the world of nutrition—foods aren’t always just “good” or “bad.” They come as package deals with good and bad aspects. Multi-Grain Cheerios have some great ingredients like whole grains, together with some refined carbs like sugar and brown rice syrup.
5. Will Multi-Grain Cheerios Help You Lose Weight?
Multi-Grain Cheerios are an okay food to include in a weight loss diet, but they’re not completely ideal. Compared to other cereals, they have a decent amount of fiber to help fill you up—but they also have some empty calories, with 8g of added sugar per serving.
By itself, a few servings of Multi-Grain Cheerios will not make or break your weight loss diet. Weight loss depends on your overall diet and lifestyle.
Choosing whole grain foods like Multi-Grain Cheerios can help you feel satisfied on fewer calories, making it easier to lose weight. But ideally, you’d also focus on lower-sugar options.
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 lose weight—whether those calories include some Multi-Grain Cheerios or not. But surely, this cereal can fit into a smart weight-loss plan.
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6. Are Multi-Grain Cheerios Healthier Than Regular Cheerios?
Now let’s compare Multi-Grain Cheerios with regular Cheerios. Which one is healthier by each factor we can look at?
- Calories: Regular Cheerios Win. This one is close, but regular Cheerios have a bit lower calorie density. They only have 140 calories per 39g serving, compared to 150 calories in the same mass of Multi-Grain Cheerios.
- Sugar: Regular Cheerios Win. This may be the biggest nutritional difference between the two options. Regular Cheerios only have 2g of added sugar per serving. But Multi-Grain Cheerios have a whopping 8g.
- Fiber: Regular Cheerios Win. Some people would assume a “multigrain” cereal has more fiber. But regular Cheerios are already a whole grain cereal. So Regular Cheerios actually 4g of fiber per serving, compared to only 3g in Multi-Grain.
- Sodium: Multi-Grain Cheerios Win. It’s not a huge victory, but the Multi-Grain cereal only has 150mg of sodium per serving, compared to 190mg in normal Cheerios.
- Saturated Fat: Multi-Grain Cheerios Win. Again it’s not a huge difference, but Multi-Grain Cheerios actually have 0g of saturated fat on their label, while regular Cheerios have 0.5g.
- Protein: Regular Cheerios Win. Regular Cheerios have 5 grams of protein per serving, but the Multi-Grain product only has 3g per serving.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Multi-Grain Cheerios Win. There are a few added nutrients where Multi-Grain Cheerios seem to have more—iron, zinc, and many B vitamins. Interestingly, regular Cheerios do have slightly more magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous.
In terms of dietary cholesterol, the two cereals are tied with 0mg per serving.
As you can see, it depends which aspect of nutrition you’re choosing to prioritize. But personally, I choose regular Cheerios.
One of the biggest nutritional differences between regular Cheerios and Multi-Grain Cheerios is the amount of added sugar. Multi-Grain Cheerios have four times the added sugar as regular Cheerios (8g vs 2g). This adds empty calories and likely increases the glycemic index.
And it’s not only the sugar. It’s also the fact that regular Cheerios have a bit more fiber to help slow down the digestion of the simple carbs and keep you full longer. So I think for most people, regular Cheerios would be the healthier option.
7. What Is the Healthiest Type of Cheerios?
Again, the term “healthiest” depends a bit on your criteria. But I would go ahead and say that the healthiest type of Cheerios is original, regular Cheerios.
Regular Cheerios have less added sugar than any of the other Cheerios flavors. In some cases, they have less than 1/5th of the sugar of other Cheerios flavors.
Of all the ways to compare which flavor is healthiest, that is probably the factor that differs the most and also matters most to your overall diet and nutrition.
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