Artificial colors (Yellow 5, Red 10, and the like) and flavors may be classified as safe by the FDA, but that doesn't mean you want to be eating them for breakfast. Many European countries have already banned Yellow 5--used in beverages, cereals, chips, and candy--as studies continue to assess the link between artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and cancer as well as a range of attention and behavior disorders in children. These include temper tantrums, ADHD, and hyperactivity as well as allergies, asthma, and migraines. Very compelling research.
By avoiding artificial colors and flavors all together or significantly reducing your consumption, you may notice health or behavior improvements.
When shopping for cereal, you'll need to do three things: read labels, read labels, read labels.
Keep an eye out for a variety of things to avoid on ingredient lists including any color followed by a number (like Red 1 or Yellow No. 2). Ferreting out artificial flavors can be more difficult.
Look for short ingredient lists. Long lists tend to involve many different additives, many of which are artificial. Remember author Michael Pollan's excellent advice: "Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce."
Oatmeal--organic or all natural--is a great one ingredient option.
A boom in organic and natural cereals is happening, making it pretty easy to find healthy cereals at any supermarket. Keep in mind these can still contain sugar.
If you like to cook, try making your own granola or cereal--that way you'll be in charge of all of the ingredients.