The best cold cereal for kidney disease is a question that comes up for my patients for a number of reasons. It can be a great low protein breakfast option or snack when it feels like they can’t eat anything else. Kidney disease (CKD) is a complex condition and it can feel like food options are limited. 

Low FODMAP Breakfast Cereal

How do you choose the best cold cereal? 

Choosing the best cold cereal for kidney disease is not necessarily a straightforward question though. It depends on the person. The nutritional considerations for the cereal include:

  • sodium
  • protein
  • phosphorus
  • potassium

Sodium 

For most of my clients, I’m going to recommend low sodium options. Across the board, if you have kidney disease, a low sodium diet is recommended. 1500-1800 mg of sodium per day is appropriate for most patients with CKD. That being said, most cold cereals are relatively low in sodium, as I would consider under 300 mg per serving to be decent. If you are having trouble with your sodium intake, you may want to opt for something with less than 180 mg. Some cereals like Post Original Shredded Wheat and Kashi Organic Cinnamon Harvest have 0 mg of sodium. 

Protein

Protein is a nutrient that needs to be limited when it comes to CKD (non-dialysis). The more protein you consume, the harder your kidneys have to work to excrete the byproducts urea and nitrogen. I like to recommend cold cereal as a breakfast or snack option because it is low in protein. I don’t usually recommend products that are fortified in protein like Premier Protein cereal or Magic Spoon. I also recommend using a plant-based milk like almond milk to reduce protein. While protein is necessary for our bodies to function, ask your doctor or dietitian how much protein is right for you. 

Phosphorus

Another nutrient that can be a concern is phosphorus. If you have elevated phosphorus in your labs, I first suggest reducing phosphorus additives from your diet. We absorb much more phosphorus from additives than we do from naturally occurring phosphorus. Phosphorus additives would be listed on the ingredient label as any word containing “phos”, like trisodium phosphate.  If phosphorus continues to be a problem, then you may need to limit naturally occurring phosphorus in foods like nuts, bran, and oats (thus affecting your cereal options). 

Some individuals don’t have elevated phosphorus in their labs, so I’m less concerned about phosphorus for them, but it does not hurt to limit foods with phosphorus additives in general. 

Cereals that have “phos” in the ingredient label: Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms, Rice Krispies, Reese’s Puffs, Oreo O’s, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cheerios, Life Cereal 

Potassium

Potassium (K) is a confusing mineral when it comes to CKD. Oftentimes, people are told they have to limit all high potassium foods. However, you only need to limit potassium if you have high potassium in your bloodwork. In fact, potassium can actually be beneficial for your blood pressure, so if there is no need to limit potassium (ie high potassium in blood work), then incorporating it could be health-promoting. 

High Potassium Cereals (more than 200 mg K) 

  • Kellogg’s Raisin Bran (280 mg K)
  • Kashi GO Crunch (350 mg K)
  • Grape Nuts (260 mg K)
  • Kashi Autumn Wheat (200 mg K)
  • Post Shredded Wheat (250 mg K)
  • Post Bran Flakes (210 mg K)
  • Quaker Brown Sugar Oatmeal Squares (200 mg K)

What about low potassium cereals?

We’ll cover that in our “best cereal” list below.

Best Cold Cereal Options for Kidney Disease:

best cereal for chronic kidney disease

How did we choose our best cereal options? These options are lower in potassium, lower in sodium, and aren’t too high in sugar either. Overall, these can be great options for many people with CKD. 

Lower Fiber Options (less than 3 g fiber per serving): 

  • Honey Roasted Honey Bunches of Oats (60 mg K, 190 mg Na, 9 g sugar, 2 g fiber)
  • Honeycomb (50 mg K, 190 mg Na, 13 g sugar, 1 g fiber)
  • Apple Jacks (50 mg K, sodium 210 mg, 13 g sugar, 2 g fiber)
  • Barbara’s Corn Flakes (40 mg K, 115 mg Na, 3 g sugar, 1 g fiber)
  • Puffed RIce, like Arrowhead Mills (50 mg K, 0 mg Na, 0 g sugar, <1 g fiber)
  • Puffed Wheat, like Arrowhead Mills (55 mg K, 0 mg Na, 0 g sugar, 2 g fiber) 

Higher Fiber Options (at least 3 g fiber per serving) 

  • Special K Vanilla & Almond (100 mg K, 220 mg Na, 11 g sugar, 3 g fiber)
  • Kix (0 mg K, 220 mg Na, 4 g sugar, 3 g fiber)
  • Barbara’s Cinamon Puffins (80 mg K, 190 mg na, 7 g sugar, 6 g fiber)
  • Barbara’s Honest O’s Original (180 mg K, 105 mg Na, <1 g sugar, 4 g fiber)
  • Barbara’s Honey Nut O’s (160 mg K, 110 mg Na, 9 g sugar, 3 g fiber)
  • Barbara’s Honey Rice Puffins (100 mg K, 105 mg Na, 7 g sugar, 3 g fiber)
  • Cascadian Farms Cinnamon Crunch (0 mg K, 140 mg Na, 11 g sugar, 3 g fiber)
  • Cascadian Farms Graham Crunch (100 mg K, 190 mg Na, 11 g sugar, 3 g fiber)
  • Frosted Mini Wheats (160 mg K, 10 mg Na, 12 g sugar, 6 g fiber)
  • Kashi 7 Whole Grain Honey Puffs (120 mg K, 0 mg Na, 9 g sugar, 3 g fiber)
  • Kashi Honey Toasted Oats (90 mg, 65 mg sodium, 7 g sugar, 5 g fiber)
  • Kashi Blueberry Clusters (120 mg K, 130 mg sodium, 11 g sugar, 3 g fiber)
  • Kashi Organic Cinnamon Harvest (190 mg K, 0 mg Na, 9 g sugar, 7 g fiber)

How can I make cold cereal into a filling meal?

Cold cereal can be a great part of a renal friendly breakfast but it isn’t always satisfying enough for a meal. Choosing a higher fiber cereal will keep you fuller longer. If you have the option to add nuts or seeds, that can had fat and fiber to be more filling. You can also add fruit, but if your potassium is elevated, choose low potassium fruit like berries. 

What Else Can I Eat for Breakfast?

If you need some variety, there is more to breakfast than just cold cereal. We’ve rounded up home prepared recipes, convenience options, and even fast food options when out and about. Check out our 20 simple breakfast options for CKD.

An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.