My mom used to eat Life cereal all the time. She eventually stopped because of the sugar content. But is it really that bad? Today, let’s look at whether this healthy-looking “whole grain” cereal is actually good for you.
Life cereal is made with whole grain flour, and it is free from artificial colors and sweeteners. It is also a good source of iron, fiber, and B vitamins. However, due to its 8g of added sugar per serving, Life cereal is only moderately healthy overall.
Below, I’ll dig into the details of Life cereal’s nutrition, comparing it to other popular cereals. I’ll answer questions about whether Life cereal is good for weight loss, whether it can cause acne, and more.
Is Life Cereal Good for You?
Here are the 8 specific questions I’ll be answering about Life cereal nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead to that section—or just keep scrolling to read them all:
- What Is Life Cereal Made Of?
- Is Life Cereal Low in Sugar?
- Is Life Cereal High in Fiber?
- Is Life Cereal High in Iron?
- Is Life Cereal an Ultra Processed Food?
- Is Life Cereal Good For Weight Loss?
- Can Life Cereal Cause Acne?
- Is Life Cereal Vegan?
1. What Is Life Cereal Made Of?
Let’s start by looking at the actual ingredients for Life cereal:
Life Original Multigrain Cereal Ingredients: Whole grain oat flour, corn flour, sugar, whole wheat flour, calcium carbonate, salt, baking soda, tocopherols (to preserve freshness), reduced iron, niacinamide, annatto (color), thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, folic acid.
Here’s what I notice about these ingredients:
- Life cereal is made with whole grain flour. The main ingredient in Life cereal is whole grain oat flour. There is also corn flour and whole wheat flour. These whole grain flours are relatively healthy. They add some fiber content, which we’ll cover more below.
- Life cereal has added sugar. The added sugar was why my mom stopped eating Life cereal a few years ago. There’s 8 grams per serving. For more on the sugar content, see below.
- Life cereal is free of artificial sweeteners or colors. Life cereal has fairly simple ingredients, and there are no controversial artificial sweeteners or colors like sucralose or red 40.
- Life cereal has added vitamins and minerals. This is only a small benefit, as these nutrients are quite common, and they’d likely be absorbed better from whole foods. But it may provide a small benefit.
Overall, Life cereal 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? What’s the glycemic index?
So, let’s take a closer look at those areas next.
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2. Is Life Cereal Low in Sugar?
Life cereal has 8 grams of sugar per serving (1 cup or 42g). This is four times the sugar of Cheerios, and double the sugar of Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies. Still, it is less sugar than Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, or Raisin Bran.
The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 25g of sugar per day for women and 36g per day for men. 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 personally, any amount of “added sugar” is a negative. Unfortunately, most popular foods today come with a bunch of sugar.
Here is a table comparing the sugar content of Life 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||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|
As you can see, Life cereal is not the worst offender—but it’s definitely not the best, either. And it’s worth noting: Aside from sugar, Life has is made from grain-based flours that will turn into sugar in your body, too.
So if you have blood-sugar issues, you may want to avoid Life cereal or limit your portion sizes.
- Does Life cereal have high fructose corn syrup? Life cereal is sweetened with normal sugar, not high fructose corn syrup.
- Is Life cereal keto friendly? Life cereal is not keto friendly or low carb. Life cereal has 33g of carbohydrate in each serving (42g or 1 cup).
3. Is Life Cereal High in Fiber?
Life Cereal is has a moderate amount of fiber, with about 7 grams of fiber per 100 grams of cereal. That’s about three times as much fiber as Special K, or seven times as much as Rice Krispies. Still, Life has less fiber than Cheerios, Weetabix, and Shredded Wheat.
Here is a table showing exactly how Life cereal compares to several other popular cereals for fiber content:
|Cereal||Fiber per 100g|
As you can see, Life cereal is by no means the highest-fiber cereal… But it’s not the lowest either, thanks to being made from several whole grains.
4. Is Life Cereal High in Iron?
Life cereal is a good source of iron. It supplies 13.2mg of iron per serving (42mg). In a 42g serving, Life cereal has 70% of the Reference Intake (RI) for iron, based on the needs of an adult with a 2,000 calorie diet.
If you need to improve your iron intake, I have a special tip for you, too: Eat vitamin C at the same meal as your Life cereal. Vitamin C is shown to improve absorption of non-heme iron when eaten together.
So have some fruit with your Life cereal! Here’s a list of high vitamin-C fruits to especially focus on.
5. Is Life Cereal an Ultra Processed Food?
I’ve been in the nutrition space for a while, and I haven’t seen an official definition of “ultra processed food” that is fully agreed upon. That said, I would not classify Life cereal as an ultra processed food. Here is why:
- Life cereal is made with whole grains. The whole grain oat flour and whole wheat flour in Life cereal is less processed than the “white flour” common in packaged foods.
- Life cereal has no processed oils. Most “ultra processed foods” would contain processed vegetable oil, such as soybean oil or corn oil. But Life has none of that junk.
- Life cereal is free of artificial sweeteners or colors. Again, there are no controversial artificial sweeteners or colors like sucralose or red 40 in Life cereal.
The worst thing about Life cereal is just the 8 grams of sugar per serving—but I wouldn’t say that’s enough to call it “ultra processed.” Just “processed.”
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6. Is Life Cereal Good For Weight Loss?
Life cereal is not the most obvious choice for a weight-loss diet. There are other cereals that could help fill you up with more fiber, less sugar, and perhaps keep you better satisfied while in a calorie deficit.
Life cereal is not the lowest-calorie food since it includes processed sugar. 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.
By itself, a few servings of Life cereal will not make or break your weight loss diet, though. Weight loss depends on your overall diet and lifestyle.
If you’re burning more calories than you’re eating each week overall, you should lose weight. Eating some Life cereal or other “processed foods” on occasion will not ruin your diet as long as that overall pattern is in tact.
- Is Life Cereal 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.
7. Can Life Cereal Cause Acne?
The relationship between diet and acne is still evolving. But increasingly, there is significant evidence that diet does play a major role in acne. And there are a few specific types of foods that are widely acknowledged as problematic.
The first big problem food for acne is dairy: Milk, cheese, ice cream, and so on. So if you’re eating your Life cereal with cow’s milk, that could already be aggravating your acne.
But the second kind of acne problem food is even more closely associated with Life cereal. It’s sugar. As covered above, Life cereal has a fair amount of sugar in each serving (8 grams)—plus it has more carbs from the grain-based flour.
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 foods and also by spikes in your blood sugar. (source)
Interestingly, this means that for many acne sufferers, reducing acne is about stabilizing your blood-sugar levels. And often, that means cutting out high-GI carbs like those found in Life cereal—or at least minimizing them.
Personally, I found that cereal was one of the worst foods for my acne. Even if I chose cereals with “no added sugar,” the high-GI processed flakes still often caused problems for me.
If you want to learn more, I wrote more about acne science and how to clear your acne in this big blog post.
8. Is Life Cereal Vegan?
Life cereal is generally considered vegan. However, it does have sugar, which is a gray-area ingredient some vegans avoid. The reason is that non-organic cane sugar is often filtered with animal bone char in the production process.
The only vegan complaint I could see against Life cereal is that the sugar could be processed with bone char. But most vegans are not so picky to boycott foods over that detail.
Most vegans would argue that Life cereal is vegan. Just don’t eat it with real cow’s milk.
[For more detail, see my separate post: Is Life Cereal Vegan?]
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