Is Total Cereal Healthy? 8 Things You Should Know

Is Total Cereal a healthy choice?

No, Total Cereal is not a healthy choice due to its high content of added sugar per serving.

Continue reading to find out more and check your knowledge!

Ingredients to be cautious about

  • Added sugars: 5g of added sugar per serving can contribute to weight gain, obesity, and increased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes.
  • Corn syrup: Contains high amounts of fructose, which can lead to weight gain, increased body fat, and negative effects on cholesterol levels.
  • Monoglycerides: Can be derived from unhealthy fats and have been linked to increased risk of obesity and heart disease.
  • Salt: Excessive salt intake can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, and weight gain.
  • Annatto Extract Color: Some studies suggest that certain food colorings, like annatto extract, may be linked to hyperactivity in children.

Possible short-term side effects

  • Weight gain
  • Obesity
  • Increased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes
  • Increased body fat
  • Negative effects on cholesterol levels
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Hyperactivity in children

Possible long-term side effects

  • Weight gain
  • Obesity
  • Increased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes
  • Negative effects on cholesterol levels
  • Increased body fat
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Hyperactivity in children

Benefits

  • High in fiber
  • Good source of iron, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, and B vitamins
  • No artificial sweeteners or colors
  • Added vitamins and minerals
  • Simple ingredients
  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • Made with whole grains
  • Helps improve absorption of iron when eaten with vitamin C

Healthy alternatives

  • Steel-cut oats
  • Quinoa flakes
  • Chia seeds
  • Almond butter
  • Fresh fruit
  • Greek yogurt
  • Avocado
  • Egg whites
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Vegetable sticks

Did you know...? 🤔

Is Total Cereal high in fiber?

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Related videos

The promise of Total cereal is that it gives you 100% Daily Value of 11 vitamins and minerals. But just because it has some added nutrients, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy in every way. So today, let’s look deeper. Is Total actually good for you?

Total cereal is made with 100% whole grain wheat, providing a healthy 4g of fiber per serving. Total is also a good source of iron, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, and many B vitamins. However, due to its 5g of added sugar per serving, Total is not the healthiest possible cereal overall.

Below, I’ll dig into the details of Total’s nutrition, comparing it to other popular cereals. I’ll answer questions about whether it’s good for weight loss, whether it can cause acne, and more.

Is Total Cereal Good for You?

Here are the 8 specific questions I’ll be answering about Total cereal nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead to that section—or just keep scrolling to read them all:

  1. What Is Total Cereal Made Of?
  2. Is Total High in Sugar?
  3. Is Total High in Fiber?
  4. Is Total High in Iron?
  5. Is Total Cereal Processed Food?
  6. Is Total Good For Weight Loss?
  7. Can Total Cereal Cause Acne?
  8. Is Total Cereal Vegan?

1. What Is Total Cereal Made Of?

Let’s start by looking at the ingredients for Total. There have been various flavors of Total over the years, but let’s look at the basic, whole-grain Total:

Total Ingredients: Whole Grain Wheat, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Monoglycerides, Annatto Extract Color. BHT Added To Preserve Freshness.

Here’s what I notice about these ingredients:

  • Total cereal is made with whole grain flour. The main ingredient in Total cereal is whole grain wheat. Whole grains provide more fiber and other nutrients compared to processed grains. We’ll cover the fiber content of Total more below.
  • Total cereal has added sugar. In fact, Total has sugar and corn syrup 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.
  • Total cereal is free of artificial sweeteners or colors. Total cereal has fairly simple ingredients, and there are no controversial artificial sweeteners or colors like sucralose or red 40.
  • Total cereal has added vitamins and minerals. Total is promoted as a source of 100% of your Daily Value of 11 vitamins and minerals. 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.
  • Total cereal has BHT. BHT is a preservative, sometimes negatively associated with BHA, which can have cancer-causing effects at high levels. But the research is more reassuring for BHT. And in fact, BHT may be anti-carcinogenic at low levels. So this ingredient should not be a concern.

Overall, Total 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? And so on.

So, let’s take a closer look at those areas next.

2. Is Total High in Sugar?

Total cereal has 5 grams of added sugar per serving (1 cup or 40g), which is moderate. Total has about two and a half times the added sugar of Cheerios, or 25% more sugar than Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies. Total cereal only has 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 Total cereal 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 Total to other popular cereal brands:

CerealServing SizeTotal SugarsAdded Sugar
Cheerios1 1/2 cup (39g)2g2g
Corn Flakes1 1/2 cup (42g)4g4g
Froot Loops1 1/3 cup (39g)12g12g
Frosted Flakes1 cup (37g)12g12g
Grape Nuts1/2 cup (58g)5g0g
Life Cereal1 cup (42g)8g8g
Raisin Bran1 cup (59g)17g9g
Rice Krispies1 1/2 cup (40g)4g4g
Shredded Wheat1 1/3 cup (60g)0g0g
Special K1 1/4 cup (39g)5g4g
Total1 cup (40g)6g5g
Sugar content of popular cereal brands.

As you can see, Total is not nearly the worst offender—but it’s not the best, either.

And it’s worth noting: Aside from sugar, Total 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 limit your portion sizes of Total cereal.

Related question:

  • Does Total cereal have high fructose corn syrup? Total is sweetened with normal sugar and corn syrup, not high fructose corn syrup.
  • Is Total cereal keto friendly? Total is not keto friendly or low carb. Total has 33g of carbohydrate in each serving (40g or 1 cup).

3. Is Total High in Fiber?

Total cereal is a good source of fiber, with 4g of fiber per serving or 10g per 100g of cereal. That is about 4 times the fiber of Corn Flakes, or about the same fiber content as Weetabix or Cheerios.

Here is a table showing exactly how Total cereal compares to several other popular cereals for fiber content:

CerealFiber per 100g
Rice Krispies1.0g
Special K2.3g
Corn Flakes2.4g
Life7.1g
Cheerios9.4g
Weetabix10g
Total10g
Grape Nuts12.1g
Shredded Wheat13.3g
Uncle Sam18.2g
All-Bran Original29.3g
Fiber One46.7g
Fiber content of cereals per 100g.
(Note: Most figures were extrapolated from smaller serving sizes, so they are not exact.)

As you can see, Total is by no means the highest-fiber cereal… But it’s 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. Is Total High in Iron?

Total is a good source of iron. It supplies 18mg of iron per serving. In a 1-cup serving, Total cereal has 100% of the Daily Value (DV) 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 Total cereal. Vitamin C is shown to improve absorption of non-heme iron when eaten together.

So have some fruit with your Total! Here’s a list of high vitamin-C fruits to choose from.

5. Is Total Cereal 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
  • sugar
  • vegetable oil
  • salt
  • monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • artificial sweeteners
  • artificial colors (like red 40)

Total cereal would generally be considered a processed food due to the added sugar. That said, it’s not nearly as bad as ultra-processed foods like soda and Twinkies.

Like many foods today, Total is a combination of more- and less-processed ingredients. The whole grain wheat provides health benefits, while the sugar and corn syrup add empty calories.

Related question:

  • Is Total considered whole-grain? The first ingredient in Total cereal is whole grain wheat. Therefore, a serving of Total would generally be considered a serving of whole grains.

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6. Is Total Good For Weight Loss?

Total cereal is an acceptable but not perfect choice for a weight-loss diet. The fiber in Total 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 Total is not great for weight-loss.

By itself, a few servings of Total will not make or break your weight-loss diet, though. After all, whole grains like those in Total tend to be good for weight loss. So, Total is not all 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 expect to lose weight. Eating Total will not make or break your diet by itself.

For more help with weight loss, check out this post with 18 tips for weight loss without counting calories.

Related Question:

  • Is Total 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 Total Cereal Cause Acne?

The relationship between diet and acne is still evolving. But there is growing 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 Total cereal with cow’s milk, that could already be aggravating your acne.

But the second kind of acne problem food is also relevant to Total cereal. It’s sugar. As covered above, Total has a moderate amount of total sugars in each serving (6 grams)—plus it has many 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 foods 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 its high fiber content, Total cereal is 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 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 big blog post.

8. Is Total Cereal Vegan?

Total cereal is typically considered vegan. It doesn’t have any milk, egg, or meat ingredients. However, Total does have two “gray area” ingredients for vegans—added sugar and added vitamin D3.

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.

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 Total cereal is not completely vegan, strictly speaking.

However, most vegans would let these little details slide. Most vegans would be okay with eating Total, as long as it’s not eaten with cow’s milk.

Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey

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