You've finally decided to heed those voices -- from the federal government's dietary guidelines to the South Beach Diet -- telling you to bulk up on fiber for its health and, how we say, lifestyle benefits. Now comes the big decision: chocolate milkshake or fruity candy?

Fun Fiber Appearing in stores alongside Metamucil and other powders are several new manufactured fiber supplements. Citrucel's FiberShake powder mixes with milk (or water) to make a chocolate shake. Fiber Drops are orange-flavored candies made by FiberChoice, which also offers sugar-free, fruit-flavor chewable tablets.

Who Needs 'Em? According to government guidelines, adults are supposed to ingest 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed daily. But few people eat enough fiber-rich grains, fruits and vegetables to do the trick.

Shakedown FiberShake is aimed at women 50 and older, said brand manager Rob Schwartz, who noted that the company chose to go chocolate to appeal to women's cravings. Women are more prone to digestive ills than men, said Schwartz, and older people are more likely to use constipating medications such as statins. Adding the powder to milk, Schwartz noted, provides a shot of calcium. FiberShake's key ingredient, methylcellulose, doesn't ferment inside your gut, so it won't cause gas. Each shake delivers two grams of fiber. A 20-serving canister costs $8.45.

Drops for Dieters Linda Kollofski, vice president of marketing for CNS, the maker of FiberChoice products, said Fiber Drops area good option for dieters because increased fiber can make you feel full and curb cravings. Fiber Drops are easy to take, but the main ingredient, inulin, can make you gassy. Inulin, a natural vegetable fiber, is also the main ingredient in FiberChoice chewables. Two drops or tablets provide four grams of fiber; 72 drops cost $9.99 to $11.99.

Taste Test The FiberShake -- two grams of fat and 50 calories not counting any milk -- has a greasy mouth-feel. It's not bad for a fiber supplement, but nothing like a regular chocolate shake. Fiber Drops -- no fat and 16 calories per two-drop dose -- taste great, just like candy. The chewables taste like funky Tums. But there is that gas thing. . . .

Bottom Line Eat your fruit and vegetables.

-- Jennifer Huget

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