Shop Smart: Fiber cereals that taste good

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Fiber-rich cereals have made progress on the road to tastiness. Fourteen years ago, Consumer Reports found most high-fiber cereals "tasted more like straw than grain." But in its latest tests of 26 cereals, most with at least 6 grams of fiber, more than two-thirds tasted very good or better.

Based on the results, you can buy shredded wheat and raisin bran by price. Within those categories, many of the cereals taste quite similar, and there's a CR Best Buy for each type: Market Pantry Frosted shredded wheat (Target) and Great Value raisin bran (Wal-Mart).

Four cereals were both very tasty and very nutritious based on calories, fat, sodium, sugars, iron, calcium and fiber: Kellogg's All-Bran Original, Post Grape-Nuts The Original, Post Shredded Wheat Original Spoon Size and Post Shredded Wheat Wheat 'n Bran Spoon Size.

The only cereal that was excellent for taste was Bear Naked Fruit and Nut granola. But its overall nutrition was fair, and it has just 2 grams of fiber per quarter-cup serving.

Despite the benefits of fiber -- it can help control appetite and weight, and might help lower the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes -- the Department of Agriculture says American adults consume an average of just 15 grams a day, far below the 25 grams recommended for women and 38 for men.

Some cereal makers add inulin (usually from chicory-root fiber or extract) to boost fiber.

Although cereal manufacturers often tout fiber levels, Consumer Reports notes that you'll hear other boasts, too.

Claims for the tested cereals include "as much protein as an egg" (Kashi GoLean Crunch and Kashi GoLean Fiber Twigs), and "no GMOs," referring to genetically modified organisms (Cascadian Farms Organic Oats and Honey as well as Nature's Path Organic Flax).

A misleading claim for Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats -- that it was "clinically shown to improve kids' attentiveness by nearly 20 percent" -- recently resulted in the company's agreement to pay $4 million to settle a class-action lawsuit.

The tested cereals can also be distinguished by their calorie counts, ranging from 60 to 260 per serving. Granolas, often thought of as healthful, are among the highest in calories and fat -- up to 10 grams per serving in the tested granolas compared with 1 gram in the other types of cereals. Sodium and sugars also range widely. Some cereals include artificial sweeteners, which minimize sugar content.

Consider serving sizes. They range from a quarter-cup to 1 1/4 cups depending on the cereal's density, so be careful how much you pour.

Consumer Reports: www.consumerreports.org.


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