Breakfast is, for many people, their most important meal. What you choose to eat first thing can set the tone for the rest of the day. Often we don’t have to time cook a big breakfast, let alone sit down and enjoy it, so we defer to quick and portable choices – like cereal.
EWG recommends against eating too many ultra-processed products, a designation that applies to most packaged breakfast cereals. However, if you do choose cereal for your morning meal, there are significant differences between organic and conventional processed options.
Organic cereals contain fewer ultra-processed ingredients and potentially harmful food additives than their conventional counterparts. By choosing organic, you avoid artificial preservatives, colors or flavors, because they are not allowed for use in organic foods.
Looking at cereals in EWG’s Food Scores database, nearly a quarter of conventional cereals contain the harmful preservative BHT. That’s just one example. Approximately 2,000 synthetic chemicals can be used in conventional packaged foods. But only a tiny fraction of synthetic substances that have passed rigorous screening can be used in organic packaged foods.
Federal regulators and independent experts are required to screen synthetic substances before they can be approved for use in organic products. These ingredients are permitted for use only if there are no organic or natural alternatives. Ingredients that harm human health are banned from packaged organic foods, as are synthetic ingredients that damage the environment.
Packaged organic foods also have a better overall nutritional profile and less added sugar.
Organic packaged foods must be formulated in compliance with robust standards set by independent and government experts, to the benefit of your health.
If you’re in the market for an organic cereal, here are some of our top choices.
- Forager Project Chocolate Organic Grain Free Os Toasted Cassava Cereal With Plant Protein, Chocolate
- Barbaras Organic Honest O's Cereal, Original
- 365 Whole Foods Market Organic Fruity Super Rings Flavored Organic Plant Based Cereal, Fruity Super
- Kashi Cinnamon Harvest Organic Cereal, Cinnamon Harvest
- Nature's Path Organic Almond Nut Butter Crunch Cereal, Almond Nut Butter
While organic options are generally a better choice if you’re trying to avoid potentially harmful ingredients, there are some good conventional choices. One example is Alpen Triple Berry No Sugar Added Muesli which is generally free from known ingredients of concern.
When purchasing a conventional cereal, look for products that contain few or no artificial ingredients, none of our top food chemicals to avoid and less than 10 grams of sugar.