Research indicates low fiber diets likely cause higher rates of obesity, as well as life-threatening complications like diabetes. Fiber is absolutely critical. It satiates hunger, increases regularity, improves cardiovascular health, and has a number of other body composition benefits. Therefore, it seems obvious that high-fiber breakfast cereals should be a welcome addition to a healthy lifestyle. However, that simply is not the case.
Most breakfast cereals are incredibly low in fiber due to the methods used to process the grains. Standard methodologies usually end up removing the high-fiber bran. However, even cereals that claim to retain high levels of fiber require extra vigilance on the part of the consumer.
It is important that the fiber in a cereal be a naturally occurring component of the whole grain. Isolated, “artificial” fibers like psyllium husks, soy fiber, or polydextrose are sometimes added to the cereal. Even the original wheat bran is sometimes returned back to the cereal separately after processing has removed it in its natural form. The Nutrition Action Healthletter, however, advises that there is not sufficient evidence to believe these fibers provide any of the same health benefits that intact fiber, like that found in the outer layer of whole grains, offers. In fact, when researchers compared the digestion of high glycemic corn-based cereal to low glycemic wheat bran cereal, they discovered that the high-fiber bran cereal only seemed low glycemic because the body more rapidly absorbed it.
It also is worth considering the fact that second ingredient in almost any high-fiber wheat bran cereal is sugar. The insulin response to high-fiber wheat bran cereal is often even higher than that of low-fiber corn-based alternatives. So, it is absolutely crucial you closely scrutinize exactly what you’re pouring into your cereal bowl before you sit down to enjoy breakfast.