Cereal is a popular breakfast choice, but it can also get a bad rap for being too low in protein, too high in sugars and too processed to be good for you. Although that’s the case for many cereals, there are some healthy options out there. You just need to take a closer look at the labels and compare.

“It’s best if you can hit four main things: a protein, a complex carbohydrate, a dairy and a fruit. The nice thing about cereal is, it’s a quick and easy way to get all those things if you throw in a sliced banana or something like that,” explained Catherine Roberts, part of the health and nutrition team at Consumer Reports.

Choosing the right cereal is key. Start with a whole grain – 100 per cent whole grain is best, but at the very least, find one with a whole grain as the first ingredient.

“Whole grains have been linked to a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. And another benefit is that they’re going to fill you up, so you’re not going to get that mid-morning hunger attack,” said Maxine Siegel with Consumer Reports.

Also, try to limit your sugar. If you really want something sweet, try to look for something with less than eight grams per serving.

And don't forget about protein. It can help with weight control and keeping your blood sugar steady.

“Cereal usually has a few grams of protein, but if you add cow’s milk or yogurt, you’re going to get a decent amount of protein,” added Siegel.

Finally, watch your portions. People often pour more than they realize. So grab your favorite bowl and measure out a serving so you recognize what a proper portion really is.

A few good picks? Post Shredded Wheat, Alpen Muesli with no sugar added and, if you want something a little sweeter, Mult-Grain Cheerios. All three performed well for taste and nutrition in recent Consumer Reports’ tests.