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The #1 Best Cereal to Eat if You Have Diabetes, Dietitian Says

If you have diabetes, you can still eat carb-y cereals—as long as they're these.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

There's no doubt that cereal can be a tasty and convenient breakfast option—or snack at any time of the day depending on your preference—however, it's also something that often contains a fair share of both sugar and carbs which can raise a person's blood glucose level. This can be an issue for people with diabetes who need to be careful when it comes to blood glucose or sugar levels, according to the Mayo Clinic.

At the same time, that doesn't mean that cereal is completely off the menu for those with diabetes—you just need to know which cereal is the best option for people with diabetes, which in this case is "unsweetened cereals that are made with whole grains," according to Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, a senior dietitian at UCLA medical center, assistant professor at UCLA Fielding school of public health, and author with Cambridge University Press, of the new book, Recipe for Survival.

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The #1 best cereal for diabetes is unsweetened cereal.

"Unsweetened cereals are best [for diabetes] because you can have a larger portion size, they have more whole grains, are more filling, and are better for blood-sugar control," Hunnes tells Eat This, Not That!

"The best choices are things like shredded wheat/bran, bran cereals, oat cereals, unsweetened old-fashioned style oats, etc."

Use blood sugar-stabilizing cereal toppings to your advantage.

Beyond that, Hunnes notes that "you can also add peanuts or other nuts to the cereal to get protein, healthy fats, and help it last you longer" while being more filling and satiating.

If you still want a little something sweet or aren't fully satisfied with your breakfast cereal, Hunnes points out that "you can always add your own, controlled portion, of a sweetener, or better yet, fruit— such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or banana to make it more filling and add more volume."

The liquid you use in your cereal also matters.

Hunnes also "recommends using unsweetened, plant-based milk with cereal because cow's milk naturally contains 12 grams of carbohydrate per cup (from lactose). So, if you use an unsweetened cereal plus unsweetened plant-based milk that contains protein (soy milk, pea-protein milk, flax milk) you get more bang for your carbohydrate buck."

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How much cereal should you eat if you have diabetes?

As for how much cereal to eat, Hunnes explains, "​This depends on age, size, activity level, gender, etc; and also the type of cereal. An unsweetened, whole-grain cereal will allow for a larger portion than one that is sugary because the sugar takes up a large chunk of 'carbohydrate' allowance for that meal."

To find out more about other delicious and healthy options for the first meal of the day, be sure to read The Best Breakfast Foods to Eat If You Have Diabetes, Says Dietitian. Then, don't forget to sign up for our newsletter for more of the latest health and food news!

Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more about Desirée