Best Cold Cereal For Kidney Disease


Best Cold Cereal For Kidney Disease

A bowl of cereal is a quick, convenient and delicious way to start your morning. You may wonder if you can still enjoy this breakfast staple now that you have chronic kidney disease (CKD). In short, yes, you can! But some cereals may be better for your kidneys than others. With hundreds of options, how do you choose the best ones?! Read on to find out how to choose the best cold cereal for kidney disease.

Factors for choosing a cold cereal for CKD

The first step to choosing the right cereal is knowing your dietary needs. There is no one-size-fits all diet for chronic kidney disease. Nutrition needs depend on many factors, such as stage of kidney disease, labs, and other underlying health conditions. Working with a kidney dietitian can help you figure out your nutrition needs and what nutrients you may need to modify to meet your kidney health goals. Let’s take a look at nutrients that may be important to consider for CKD.


For those with early CKD (stages 1-3), a normal protein diet is often recommended. Did you know most Americans are consuming more protein than they need? A normal protein intake is considered 0.8 grams protein per kilogram body weight.

A slight protein restriction is often recommended for those with stage 4 and stage 5 kidney disease. This is because too much dietary protein can lead to progression of kidney disease. A lower protein diet is around 0.6 grams protein per kilogram body weight. Keep in mind extremely low protein diets can result in malnutrition. Working with a kidney dietitian is key to ensure adequate protein to keep your body functioning without overworking the kidneys.

For those with end stage kidney disease on dialysis, a higher protein diet is recommended. A high protein diet is around 1.2 grams protein per kilogram body weight. The process of dialysis is demanding on the body. Protein is lost during dialysis treatments and must be replaced to prevent malnutrition. Those on dialysis have compromised immune systems and adequate protein is needed to support the body’s ability to heal and prevent infections.

Now, cereal is typically not usually considered a high protein food. But it’s still good to pay attention to the nutrition facts label, especially if you are purposely aiming for a certain amount of protein at your meals.


A low sodium diet is usually recommended at all stages of chronic kidney disease. Sodium intake of less than 2,300 mg per day is typically suggested although it can vary person to person. 

photo of grape nuts cereal. contains 280 mg sodium per 1/2 cup.

Excess sodium can lead to high blood pressure which can worsen chronic kidney disease. Too much sodium in the diet can also lead to fluid retention, especially those in later stages of CKD and on dialysis. You may think that cereal isn’t a source of sodium, but it’s usually there- so check those labels!


Potassium restrictions aren’t necessary for everyone with kidney disease. Limiting potassium when you don’t have to does nothing to protect your kidney function. Recommended intakes for potassium should be individualized to maintain normal blood potassium levels. 

As kidney function declines, the kidneys may have a hard time regulating the body’s potassium balance and it can build up. Those who are in late stages of CKD or on dialysis often need to limit potassium levels. If potassium builds up too much it can lead to heart attack. 

Potassium content of cereals should be available on the nutrition facts label. A low potassium food has less than 200 mg potassium per serving. A high potassium food has over 200 mg potassium per serving. Again, a kidney dietitian can guide you on your daily potassium intake.


Phosphorus is a mineral our body uses to form bones and it also helps our body create energy, and is needed for nerves and muscle function. There are two forms of phosphorus found in food – natural sources and man-made sources. Foods naturally rich in phosphorus include dairy, meats/poultry/fish and nuts/beans and grains. Man-made phosphorus, also called phosphorus additives, could be found in any packaged food, processed meats and some beverages. 

When it comes to CKD, phosphorus additives are more important to be cautious of than natural phosphorus sources. This is because the additive form of phosphorus is easily absorbed into the body and can double to triple the amount of phosphorus in a food. Phosphorus additives can be located in the ingredient list of a food – look out for any ingredient containing “phos”. 

Box of Multigrain Cheerios. Ingredient list shows the product contains a phosphorus additive-  tripotassium phosphate.


Fiber is a type of carbohydrate which the body cannot digest. It has many health benefits. It can help with blood sugar control, improve cholesterol levels, and help with bowel regularity. The recommended daily allowance of fiber in adults is 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. If looking to get extra fiber in your cereal, aim for one with 5 g or more per serving.

Added Sugar

Cereals can double as desserts these days with the amount of sugar in some of them. It’s recommended to limit added sugar to no more than 25 grams for women and no more than 36 grams per day for men. Even if you don’t have diabetes, excess sugar can increase your risk of heart disease and obesity. 


Those with CKD are at risk for developing anemia, a condition when your body has lower than normal red blood cells. Symptoms of anemia include tiredness, shortness of breath and problems concentrating. There are many causes of anemia, but lack of iron is one cause that can be combated with diet. Many cereals are fortified with iron which can be an added bonus for those trying to boost their iron stores.

List of Better Cereal Choices for CKD

I’ve compiled a list of cereals that are better choices for CKD. All choices listed can work with a low sodium diet and are free of phosphorus additives. The cereals vary in protein and potassium content as needs for these nutrients can vary person to person. I weeded out the cereals high in added sugar, but keep in mind some choices have more sugar than others.

In Summary…

CerealProteinSodiumPotassiumFiberAdded sugarIron
Alpen Museli – No added sugar8 g20 mg260 mg7 g0 g1.8 mg
Barbara’s – Corn Flakes3 g115 mg40 mg1 g3 g0.1 mg
Barbara’s – Multigrain Spoonfulls5 g210 mg170 mg5 g7 g1 mg
Barbara’s Puffins – Cinnamon3 g190 mg140 mg6 g6 g1 mg
Barbara’s Puffins- Original3 g210 mg150 mg6 g6 g1 mg
Barbara’s – Shredded Wheat6 g0 mg170 mg7 g0 g1.6 mg
Cascadian Farm Cinnamon Crunch2 g140 mg0 mg3 g11 g1 mg
Catalina Crunch Cinnamon Toast Cereal11 g110 mg30 mg9 g0 g2 mg
Cinnamon Chex2 g230 mg0 mg2 g8 g11 mg
Corn Chex3 g280 mg0 mg2 g4 g11 mg
Ezekiel 4:9 – Cinnamon Raisin7 g130 mg236 mg5 g1 g3 mg
Ezekiel 4:9 – Golden Flax8 g160 mg168 mg7 g1 g4 mg
Ezekiel 4:9 – Original8 g160 mg178 mg6 g1 g
Ezekiel 4:9 – Sprouted Grain Low Sodium8 g0 mg197 mg7 g1 g2 mg
Ezekiel 4:9,- Almond8 g150 mg193 mg6 g1 g4 mg
Grape-Nut Flakes4 g210 mg160 mg5 g3 g12.6 mg
Great Grains – Raisins, Dates & Pecans4 g140 mg210 mg4 g4 g11 mg
Great Grains – Crunchy Pecan5 g160 mg190 mg5 g5 g16 mg
Honey Bunches of Oats – Honey Roasted3 g190 mg60 mg2 g8 g16 mg
Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds3 g180 mg90 mg2 g8 g16 mg
Kashi Blueberry Clusters5 g130 mg110 mg3 g11 g2 mg
Kashi Whole Wheat Biscuits -Cinnamon Harvest7 g0 mg190 mg7 g9 g2 mg
Kashi GO Chocolate Crunch 10 g120 mg210 mg6 g9 g2 mg
Kashi GO Original11 g140 mg200 mg12 g8 g3 mg
Kashi GO Peanut Butter Crunch10 g130 mg370 mg6 g10 g2 mg
Kashi GO Toasted Berry Crisp9 g140 mg270 mg9 g9 g2 mg
Kashi – Maple Waffle Crisp3 g105 mg120 mg4 g8 g0.8 mg
Kashi Whole Wheat Biscuits – Autumn Wheat7 g0 mg200 mg7 g7 g1.8 mg
Kashi Whole Wheat Biscuits – Berry Fruitful7 g0 mg210 mg6 g9 g1.9 mg
Kix3 g220 mg0 mg3 g4 g11 mg
Life – Cinnamon4 g170 mg110 mg3 g10  g11 mg
Life – Original4 g170 mg120 mg3 g8 g13 mg
Magic Spoon – Cocoa13 g160 mg105 mg2 g0 g2 mg
Magic Spoon – Fruity13 g160 mg19 mg1 g0 g2 mg
Nature’s Path – Amazon Frosted Flakes3 g170 mg0 mg1 g9 g0 mg
Nature’s Path – Cheetah Chomps3 g160 mg100 mg1 g9 g1 mg
Nature’s Path – Corn Flakes3 g170 mg94 mg1 g3 g0.45 mg
Nature’s Path – Crispy Rice 3 g210 mg125 mg3 g3 g1 mg
Nature’s Path – Flax Plus5 g180 mg187 mg7 g5 g2 mg
Nature’s Path – Flax Plus Cinnamon4 g190 mg160 mg5 g7 g1 mg
Nature’s Path – Flax Plus Maple Pecan6 g210 mg250 mg6 g10 g2.5 mg
Nature’s Path – Flax Plus Pumpkin Raisin6 g150 mg310 mg7 g6 g2.8 mg
Nature’s Path – Flax Plus Raisin Bran6 g210 mg320 mg9 g6 g3 mg
Nature’s Path – Flax Plus Red Berry Crunch6 g170 mg260 mg6 g10 g2.4 mg
Nature’s Path – Golden Turmeric2 g190 mg88 mg2 g6 g0.48 mg
Nature’s Path – Gorilla Munch3 g110 mg0 mg2 g10 g1 mg
Nature’s Path – Heritage Flakes5 g170 mg200 mg7 g5 g2 mg
Nature’s Path – Khorasan Puffs2 g0 mg80 mg2 g0 g0.7 mg
Nature’s Path- Leapin’ Lemurs3 g150 mg70 mg3 g10 g0.3 mg
Nature’s Path – Panda Puffs3 g170 mg0 mg3 g9 g1 mg
Nature’s Path – Sunrise Crunchy Cinnamon3 g150 mg90 mg4 g6 g1 mg
Nature’s Path – Sunrise Crunchy Honey2 g200 mg85 mg4 g7 g1 mg
Nature’s Path – Sunrise Crunchy Maple2 g180 mg85 mg4 g7 g1 mg
Nature’s Path – Sunrise Crunchy Vanilla2 g190 mg85 mg4 g7 g1 mg
Nature’s Path -Whole-O’s4 g150 mg103 mg4 g4 g0.96 mg
Natures’ Path – Smart Bran4 g170 mg0 mg*17 g8 g2 mg
Nature’s Path – Turtle Splash4 g115 mg230 mg2 g7 g1 mg
Purely Elizabeth – Chocolate Almond5 g100 mg180 mg4 g7 g2 mg
Purely Elizabeth – Cinnamon Raisin Almond5 g90 mg190 mg4 g6 g2 mg
Purely Elizabeth – Honey Peanut Butter5 g95 mg160 mg4 g7 g2 mg
Purely Elizabeth – Vanilla Blueberry Almond5 g95 mg160 mg4 g8 g1 mg
Quaker Oatmeal Squares – Brown Sugar6 g190 mg200 mg5 g9 g16 mg
Quaker Oatmeal Square- Cinnamon4 g170 mg110 mg3 g10 g11.2 mg
Quaker Oatmeal Square- Honey Nut6 g190 mg200 mg5 g9 g16.3 mg
Rice Chex3 g310 mg0 mg2 g3 g14 mg
Raisin Bran (Kellogg’s)5 g200 mg280 mg7 g9 g2 mg
Rice Krispies (Kellogg’s)3 g200 mg30 mg0 g4 g11 mg
Shredded Wheat (Post)7 g0 mg240 mg8 g0 g2 mg
Special K Red Berries3 g250 mg80 mg3 g10 g11 mg
Special K Vanilla and Almond3 g220 mg100 mg3 g11 g11 mg
Wheaties (General Mills)3 g240 mg140 mg4 g5 g11 mg
*I question the accruary of this food label as bran is naturally rich in potassium.


When choosing the best cold cereal for kidney disease, knowing your unique nutrition needs can help you figure out where to focus when reading the nutrition facts label. A kidney dietitian is the best person to turn to when you are unsure of nutrients that you need to adjust. Remember to check the ingredient list for added phosphorus. I hope you have increased awareness to make a better choice next time you are in the cereal aisle!



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Meet Lindsay

Registered dietitian and board certified specialist in renal nutrition