In case you haven’t noticed, with all the positive attention fiber is getting lately, food manufacturers are starting to add refined fiber to many foods. This can make tortillas, bread and cereals look really good on the label, but nutritionally speaking, fiber should not be added, but be found naturally occurring in foods. While enriched fiber bears many names (oat bran fiber is the most common), the best bet is to buy foods with a short list of ingredients. The fewer ingredients, the more fresh and whole that food is likely to be. The more ingredients, the more preservatives, artificial flavoring agents and fewer nutrients that food will naturally contain.
If you're wondering why some product ingredient lists read like encyclopedias, it's because the older the primary ingredients are, the more preservatives are added. But because preservatives are often bitter to taste, artificial flavors are added to cover up the bitterness. And if this particular "food" (I use that term liberally) is targeting children, teens, or even the average American joe, you can bet artificial colors will be thrown in as well.
Also, the first ingredient on the label should never be “enriched flour”. That means the bread product you’re buying is primarily made of white, nutrient-depleted flour. It is legal for food manufacturers to advertise their products as “whole wheat” with only 25% of the flour actually being whole wheat. So look at that label – the first ingredient will tell you the real story. Also, make sure your bread has at least 3 grams of fiber per slice.
One more little tip on bread and bread products: buy fresh. Fresh means the bread was made locally and therefore recently. Once grains have been ground into flour the nutrients are more easily oxidized, and therefore lost. So the fresher the bread (or tortillas, English muffins, bagels, etc.), the more nutrients it will retain... and less preservatives and artificial flavors will be present.