The promise of Wheaties is that they’re healthy enough that even pro athletes eat them. Honestly, I don’t have access to pro athletes’ pantries to check that. But we do have access to the ingredients and nutrition label. So today, let’s examine: Are Wheaties really healthy?
Wheaties are made with whole grain wheat, providing a healthy 4g of fiber per serving. They are also a good source of iron and other vitamins and minerals. However, due to their 5g of added sugar and 240mg of sodium per serving, Wheaties are not the healthiest cereal option.
Below, I’ll dig into the details of Wheaties nutrition, comparing it to some other popular cereals. I’ll answer questions about whether it’s good for weight loss, whether it can cause acne, and more.
Are Wheaties Good for You?
Here are the 8 specific questions I’ll be answering about Wheaties nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead to that section—or just keep scrolling to read them all:
- What Are Wheaties Made Of?
- Are Wheaties High in Sugar?
- Are Wheaties High in Fiber?
- Are Wheaties Processed Food?
- Are Wheaties Good For Weight Loss?
- Can Wheaties Cause Acne?
- Are Wheaties Vegan?
1. What Are Wheaties Made Of?
Let’s start by looking at the ingredients for Wheaties:
Wheaties Ingredients: Whole Grain Wheat, Sugar, Honey, Salt. Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshness. [Added Vitamins and Minerals]
Here’s what I notice about these ingredients:
- Wheaties are made with whole grain wheat. The main ingredient in Wheaties is whole grain wheat. Whole grains have more fiber and other nutrients compared to processed grains. We’ll cover the fiber content of Wheaties more below.
- Wheaties have added sugar. In fact, Wheaties have sugar and honey both. All together, there are 5 grams of added sugar per serving. I would consider that moderate. To see how this compares to other cereal brands, see the table below.
- Wheaties are free of artificial sweeteners or colors. Wheaties have fairly simple ingredients, and there are no controversial artificial sweeteners or colors like sucralose or red 40.
- Wheaties have added vitamins and minerals. These include iron, zinc, vitamin D, a mix of B vitamins, and more. In reality, this may only be a small benefit, as most of these nutrients are quite common, and they’d likely be absorbed better from whole foods. But it doesn’t hurt.
Overall, the Wheaties ingredients are pretty simple. The key to whether it’s “healthy” may have to do more with questions like, How much sugar is there? How much fiber? And so on.
So, let’s take a closer look at those areas in the next sections.
- Are Wheaties just bran flakes? Wheaties are not bran flakes. They are made of whole grain wheat, not just wheat bran.
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2. Are Wheaties High in Sugar?
Wheaties have 5 grams of added sugar per serving (1 cup or 36g), which is moderate. Wheaties have about two and a half times the added sugar of Cheerios, or 25% more sugar than Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies. Wheaties only have about half the added sugar of Raisin Bran.
The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 25g of sugar per day for women and 36g per day for men. That would allow you about 5 to 7 servings of Wheaties per day if you ate no other added sugars.
But no added sugar is needed for human health. Really, the healthiest diet would likely just have some natural sugar from fruit and whole foods. So, for me, any amount of “added sugar” is a negative.
Here is a table comparing the sugar content of Wheaties to other popular cereal brands:
|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|
|Life Cereal||1 cup (42g)||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|
|Total||1 cup (40g)||6g||5g|
|Wheaties||1 cup (36g)||5g||5g|
As you can see, Wheaties are not nearly the worst—but they’re not the best, either.
And it’s worth noting: Aside from sugar, Wheaties are made from wheat flour that will turn into sugar in your body, too. So if you have blood-sugar issues, you may want to limit your portion sizes of Wheaties to an extent.
- Do Wheaties have high fructose corn syrup? Wheaties are sweetened with normal sugar and honey, not high fructose corn syrup.
- Are Wheaties keto friendly? Wheaties are not keto friendly or low carb. Wheaties have 30g of carbohydrate in each serving (36g or 1 cup).
3. Are Wheaties High in Fiber?
Wheaties are a good source of fiber, with 4g of fiber per serving or about 11g per 100g of cereal. That is about 4 times the fiber of Corn Flakes, or just a bit more fiber than Cheerios or Total.
Here is a table showing exactly how Wheaties compare to several other popular cereals for fiber content:
|Cereal||Fiber per 100g|
(Note: Most figures were extrapolated from smaller serving sizes, so they are not exact.)
As you can see, Wheaties are by no means the highest-fiber cereal… But they’re actually one of the more fiber-rich options on the market today, thanks to being made from whole wheat and just a few added ingredients.
4. Are Wheaties Processed Food?
“Processed food” is a bit hard to define. Technically speaking, slicing up an apple could count as “processing.” But when we talk about “processed food,” we usually mean something else.
In practical terms, the big signs of processed food are when the ingredients contain the following:
- refined grains or flour
- vegetable oil
- monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- artificial sweeteners
- artificial colors (like red 40)
Wheaties would generally be considered processed food due to their added sugar and salt. That said, Wheaties are not ultra-processed or super unhealthy.
Like many foods today, Wheaties has a combination of more- and less-processed ingredients. The whole grain wheat provides health benefits, while the sugar adds empty calories.
- Are Wheaties considered whole-grain? The first ingredient in Wheaties is whole grain wheat. Therefore, a serving of Wheaties would generally be considered a serving of whole grains.
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5. Are Wheaties Good For Weight Loss?
Wheaties are an acceptable but perhaps not perfect choice for a weight-loss diet. The fiber in Wheaties should help keep you satisfied while dieting, but the added sugar provides unnecessary empty calories, too.
Any processed ingredients (including sugar) tend to have a relatively high caloric density, as the bulk and fiber are removed. To lose weight, it helps to focus on low calorie-density foods. So, the added sugar in Wheaties is not really great for weight-loss.
That said, by itself, a few servings of Wheaties will not ruin your weight-loss diet. After all, whole grains like those in Wheaties tend to be good for weight loss. So, Wheaties are not too bad.
In any case, weight loss depends on your overall diet and lifestyle. If you’re burning more calories than you’re eating, you can typically expect to lose weight. Eating Wheaties will not make or break your diet by itself. It’s about the big picture.
For more help with weight loss, check out this post with 18 tips for weight loss without counting calories.
- Are Wheaties Good For Losing Belly Fat? Specific foods cannot help you lose fat from a specific area of your body. Fat loss is a full body process, and it depends on your overall diet and lifestyle—not one food you eat. For more information, read this post on how to get six-pack abs.
6. Can Wheaties Cause Acne?
The relationship between diet and acne is still evolving. But there is growing evidence that diet does play a big role in acne. And there are a few types of foods that are generally acknowledged as problematic.
The first problem food for acne is dairy: Milk, cheese, ice cream, and so on. So if you’re eating Wheaties with cow’s milk, that could be aggravating your acne.
And the second acne problem food is also relevant to Wheaties: It’s sugar. As covered above, Wheaties have a moderate amount of sugar in each serving (5 grams)—plus they have more carbs that turn into sugar in your body.
Milk and sugar are suspected to affect acne through similar mechanisms. It has to do with your body’s insulin response. Your body’s use of insulin is affected by eating dairy and also by spikes in your blood sugar. (source)
Interestingly, this means for many acne sufferers, reducing acne is about stabilizing blood-sugar levels. And often, that means cutting out processed carbs, or at least minimizing them.
Personally, I found that cereal was one of the worst foods for my acne. Even if I chose whole-grain cereals, or cereals with with “no added sugar,” the processed flakes still often caused problems for me.
Due to their high fiber content, Wheaties are likely not the worst cereal for acne. That said, a high-fiber and sugar-free cereal like shredded wheat may be better. Or you may find best results with oatmeal or muesli—or by avoiding grains for breakfast all together.
If you want to learn more, I wrote more about acne science and how to clear your acne in this blog post.
7. Are Wheaties Vegan?
Wheaties are generally not considered vegan because they contain honey. They also have added sugar and added vitamin D3, which some vegans also avoid.
Whether honey is vegan is actually a hugely debated topic. Of course, honey is an animal product, and vegans typically avoid animal products… But it’s unclear whether bees even feel pain or experience consciousness. So, it’s complicated.
Another ingredient that can be controversial for vegans is sugar. Non-organic sugar is often filtered with animal bone char. So, this is likely another area where Wheaties are not completely vegan, strictly speaking.
Many fortified cereals have added vitamin D3, which is technically not vegan, as it comes from lanolin (from sheep’s wool). Many vegans are ok with this since it’s such a minor ingredient, but technically speaking, it is not vegan.
Some vegans let these “minor ingredients” slide, however. So, some vegans would be okay with eating Wheaties. Most are probably not.
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