Is Raisin Bran Healthy? Nutrition, Benefits, and Downsides


Raisin bran is often considered a convenient, tasty, and healthy breakfast cereal.

While several companies make raisin bran, it typically contains bran flakes, raisins, sweeteners, salt, added flavors, and various vitamins and minerals.

Given that the word “bran” is often associated with healthy foods, many people assume that raisin bran is a nutritious breakfast cereal, but you may wonder whether this is the case.

This article reviews whether raisin bran is a healthy cereal option, as well as its nutritional composition, potential benefits, and downsides.

While various brands make raisin bran, its basic ingredient list and nutrient composition are largely similar.

The basic ingredients in most raisin bran cereals include whole grain wheat, raisins, wheat bran, sugar, brown sugar syrup, malt flavor, salt, and added vitamins and minerals.

Raisin bran tends to be fairly calorie-dense and high in fiber, protein, and added micronutrients.

The nutrient composition of a 1-cup (55–61-gram) serving of raisin bran made by three popular brands is outlined in the table below (1, 2, 3).

As you can see, the macronutrient — protein, fat, carbs — compositions and calorie contents of various brands of raisin bran are similar.

However, the added vitamin and mineral content can vary substantially, especially when it comes to calcium, iron, folate, and zinc.

SUMMARY

Different brands of raisin bran have similar macronutrient profiles but can vary substantially in their added vitamin and mineral contents.

Although there’s not much research on the health benefits of eating raisin bran cereal specifically, studies have shown that certain nutrients in the cereal may have benefits.

High in fiber

The minimum recommended daily fiber intake for most people is around 30 grams. However, surveys have found that most people in the United States only get around half of that amount in a typical day (4).

A single serving of raisin bran cereal can meet approximately one-sixth of those needs, which primarily comes from the wheat and bran ingredients.

Getting enough fiber is important for digestive health. It promotes bowel regularity and has protective effects against colon cancer (5).

Fiber helps you feel full for longer and may prevent dramatic drops in blood sugar between meals. Feelings of fullness can also help prevent overeating, which is a benefit if you’re looking to lose weight or prevent unwanted weight gain (6).

Adequate fiber intake may also help reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic conditions (7).

Good source of micronutrients

A 1-cup (60-gram) serving of raisin bran is a good source of a wide variety of essential vitamins and minerals (1, 2, 3).

Many of these micronutrients are added through fortification, a process in which vitamins and minerals that aren’t naturally present in a food item are added to the final product to make it more nutritious.

This is beneficial because many people in the United States don’t consume enough iron, calcium, or vitamins A, C, D, and E in their diet. Fortified cereals are an easy and effective way to increase micronutrient intake (8, 9).

Furthermore, cereals fortified with folic acid, which is the synthetic form of the B vitamin folate, have helped reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in the United States (10).

Raisin bran is also a particularly good source of iron, a critical nutrient for preventing iron deficiency anemia (11).

Note that different brands of raisin bran offer varying amounts of these nutrients, so it’s good to read the nutrition label to find a product that provides the micronutrients you’re looking for.

SUMMARY

Raisin bran is rich in fiber and a variety of micronutrients that are added through fortification. Getting enough of these nutrients may help reduce your risk of diseases associated with deficiencies in them.

Although raisin bran is a source of several healthy nutrients, it tends to be high in added sugar and refined carbs.

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that added sugar should comprise no more than 10% of your total daily calories. This equates to approximately 12 teaspoons (50 grams) for someone following a 2,000-calorie diet (12).

Furthermore, the American Heart Association says that women should stick to 6 teaspoons (25 grams) or less, while men should limit their intake to 9 teaspoons (38 grams) of added sugar per day (13).

One cup (60 grams) of raisin bran cereal can contain up to 20 grams of sugar (1, 2, 3).

This means that one small serving of food comprises almost half of your sugar intake for the day. Plus, eating too much sugar comes with its own downsides.

A diet high in added sugar can increase your risk of obesity and chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer. Eating a lot of added sugar can also lead to cavities (14, 15, 16, 17).

Additionally, health claims on raisin bran cereal can be misleading. While touted to be a source of heart-healthy whole grains, these benefits are outweighed by the high amount of sugar, which may raise your risk of heart disease (18, 19).

What’s more, many people eat more than the recommended serving size listed on a cereal box, which means they consume substantially more sugar and unhealthy ingredients.

SUMMARY

Raisin bran is high in added sugar and refined carbs, which can negate the health benefits of its other ingredients, especially since most people eat more than the recommended serving size.

While fortified raisin bran can be a good source of various vitamins and minerals, it’s not the healthiest option overall for an everyday breakfast cereal. Still, it can be a part of a healthy diet as an occasional choice.

If you choose to eat cereal on a regular basis, look for options that are high in fiber and low in sugar. A good baseline is to choose cereals that offer at least 3 grams of fiber and less than 6 grams of sugar per serving.

It’s also a good idea to check the serving size and determine whether it’s a realistic amount of cereal, or if you’re likely to consume more than what’s listed. If the latter likely applies to you, decide whether it’s a good addition to your overall healthy diet.

SUMMARY

Raisin bran offers several beneficial micronutrients, but it’s also high in sugar, making it best enjoyed on occasion rather than as a regular breakfast option.

Raisin bran is a popular cereal made with bran flakes and raisins, often giving it the appearance of being a healthy breakfast choice.

However, while raisin bran is a good source of fiber and important micronutrients like iron and folate, it tends to be high in added sugar. In fact, one serving of raisin bran can contribute nearly half of the recommended daily intake limit for sugar.

As such, raisin bran works best as an occasional breakfast option rather than a regular choice.



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