When you think whole-grains do you think dietary fiber? If you do your not alone, it’s a natural association. One the marketing geniuses have used to entice us to purchase foods that claim to be made with whole-grains but may contain as little or as much or as 1 to 11 grams of fiber per serving.
As health conscious consumers we’ve heard the message – eating a high fiber diet can reduce our risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes and being overweight or obese. We’ve understood the message – dietary fiber is good for us and we should eat more of it. We’ve assimilated the message and actively seek out whole-grain foods knowing and believing they’ll add fiber and deliver the health benefits we desire for a healthy lifestyle.
This is so exciting to me, I want everyone to be healthy and to reap the rewards of a balanced diet (high in dietary fiber, whole-grains and loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables) has to offer. Unfortunately, not everyone is looking out for your health and happiness.
The food manufacturers and marketers of the world have used our consumer health knowledge to it’s own advantage. A myriad of products with whole-grain claims line the shelves of grocery stores, all strategically placed for maximum visibility and purchasing influence. The claims jump out at us and lead us to believe the products are healthy.
Dietary Food Labels: What to look for.
However, if you look at the food label, found either on the back or side of the product, it will tell you the amount of fiber/serve the product actually contains. If the fiber/serve is less than 1 gram this is “not” a good source of fiber.
A Food to be a “good” source of fiber it must contain 3 grams of fiber/serving. For an “excellent” source it must contain more than 5 grams of fiber/serving.
To keep our system chugging and popping along it’s recommended to consume between 24-38 grams of fiber a day. Thanks to fiber, it’s normal, natural and healthy to pop off:)
Swap Everyday Foods for Higher Fiber Version
An easy way to add fiber to your day is to eat the same foods but swap them for a high fiber healthier version. Here are some healthy food swap ideas:
- Whole wheatWhite bread
- Weetabix cereal for All Bran cereal
- Your favorite junk food for Popcorn
- White rice for Brown rice
- Brown rice for Red or black rice
- Regular crackers for Whole grain crackers with > than 3 g of fiber/serve
The benefits of a fiber rich diet are real and powerful and not just in the wind area. I encourage you to read labels and swap your favorite low fiber food with a higher fiber version. If you do this with breakfast cereals and rice you can add 10 grams of fiber very easily.
For example Weetabix has 3.8 g fiber/serve where as All Bran has 11 g/serve. This one change adds 7 grams of fiber. It’s important to remember to drink more water as you up your fiber intake this will ensure that things keep on moving along, if you know what I mean.
One final thing before I sign off. The explosion of packaged foods making whole-grain statements makes it’s even more important to be knowledgeable consumers.
Take a few minutes to read your food labels, what did you find? Are products touted to be a whole-grain really a “good” or “excellent” source of dietary fiber?
Leave a message to share your findings, did anything surprise you?
Idea source, Nutrition today: The Fiber Deficit, Part I/II