The Facts on Fiber One Cereals

Dear Brand Doctor,

I recently began eating General Mills Fiber One cereal for breakfast. I know it’s far better than the fattening muffin I used to grab on the run – or the big fat NOTHING I ate most mornings. I feel better. I have more energy. And I’ve even dropped a few pounds.

But is Fiber One a BestBrands contender that’s really good for me? What about the better-tasting Fiber One Honey Clusters?

Thanks for your help!
Signed, A Regular Kind of Gal

Dear Regular Gal,

Congratulations on making the switch to a high-fiber cereal. Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is a great way to help maintain your weight and your overall health. Way to go!

And since you asked, here’s the BrandAid stance on your General Mills Fiber One cereal.

Serving size: ½ cup, calories 60, total fat 1g, sodium 105mg, dietary fiber 14g, sugar 0g

INGREDIENTS: Corn Bran, Whole Grain Wheat, Wheat Bran, Corn Starch, Calcium Carbonate, Guar Gum, Color Added, Cellulose Gum, Salt, Baking Soda, Corn Oil, Aspartame, and Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshness.

Added Vitamins and Minerals: Zinc and Iron (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbate), A B Vitamin (Niacinamide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin Mononitrate), A B Vitamin (Folic Acid), Vitamin B12.

A few years ago you would have found Fiber One on our BestBrands list because a half-cup packs only 60 calories and a whopping 14 grams of fiber – which is about 57% of your daily fiber needs! It also tastes pretty good compared to other high-fiber cereals. Since most Americans only consume about half of the recommended amount of daily fiber (25-35 grams), we really thought this cereal was a great solution for our fiber needs.

However, when we looked at the Fiber One ingredients list we noticed the second-to-last ingredient is the artificial sweetener aspartame. As shrewd BrandAid members know, ingredients are listed in order from most to least, so there probably isn’t much aspartame in each serving. We overlooked the aspartame because we thought the fiber benefits outweighed the fake sugar.

But our views changed when we developed the BrandAid concept. Since the trend in food products over the past few years has been to include more and more chemical additives, we made the decision to tighten our standards in terms of which brands/products were eligible for our healthiest brands list.

Products with artificial sweeteners – regardless of the overall nutritional value – no longer have a place on our BestBrands list. However, we do recognize that sometimes a healthy choice might contain one of our least-favorite ingredients. Products in this group will never qualify as a BestBrand, but they can merit our SilverMedal distinction. It’s still a good choice…but it’s not the best choice.

The short answer to your question then: General Mills Fiber One is not a BestBrand, but it does get our SilverMedal distinction.

Healthy Food Imposter

You also asked about Fiber One’s Honey Clusters variety. This product may taste good but it falls into our Healthy Food Imposter category.

Serving size: 1 cup, calories 160, total fat 1.5g, sodium 280mg, dietary fiber 13g, sugar 6g

INGREDIENTS: Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Bran, Wheat Bran, Inulin, Sugar, Whole Grain Oats, Crisp Oats (Rice Flour, Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Malt Extract, Salt, BHT [Preservative]), Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Toasted Oats (Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soybean Oil, Honey, Brown Sugar Molasses), Salt, Wheat Bits (Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Starch, Corn Flour, Sugar, Salt, Trisodium Phosphate, Baking Soda, Color added), Barley Malt Extract, Honey, Modified Corn Starch, Calcium Carbonate, Malt Syrup, Tripotassium Phosphate, Color added, Cinnamon, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Sucralose, Almond Meal, Nonfat Milk, Walnut Flour, Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) and BHT Added to Preserve Freshness.

Added Vitamins and Minerals: Zinc and Iron (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbate), A B Vitamin (Niacinamide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin Mononitrate), Vitamin A (Palmitate), A B Vitamin (Folic Acid), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D.

When you compare the Nutrition Facts labels you see the Imposter’s serving size is double that of the SilverMedal variety. Basically you’re spooning up more than twice the calories to get the same amount of fiber. Plus, it has twice as much sodium and sugar as the regular Fiber One.

And worse still, the ingredients list reveals a wider variety of junk ingredients that are not found in the regular version. These include high fructose corn syrup, sucralose, trisodium phosphate, modified corn starch, and the preservative BHT.

If you’re looking for a way to boost the taste of your high fiber cereal, try this Brand Doctor favorite:

Combine a quarter-cup of Fiber One (regular variety) with a quarter-cup of Kashi Good Friends Cinna-Raisin Crunch (a BestBrand contender with lots of taste and no junk ingredients). Add organic skim milk and a handful of blueberries and you’ve got a taste sensation that’s packed with nutrition. You’ll cut down on your intake of aspartame and other chemical additives, while still boosting your daily fiber intake! It’s a win-win for sure.

Remember, when you’re armed with a little eBrandAid know-how, you’re in control at the grocery store.

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In Our Opinion: The information contained in the eBrandAid e-newsletters is strictly based on the opinions of the eBrand Doctors. We have created a set of guidelines that we believe will help shoppers to better understand and decode food labels on products found in most grocery stores. Our mission is to help shoppers find the healthier brands that have the least amount of chemicals and other junk ingredients.

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