Getting More Fiber From Your Whole Grains

Counting calories is relatively easy. But tallying up your daily fiber intake? Well, it may not be test-taking hard, but simple it’s not. Getting on friendly terms with nutrition facts labels is one way to demystify the process. But first, it helps to know where to look to ensure you’re getting enough of this important nutrient.

Fiber plays a central role in maintaining healthy digestion. TheAcademy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that healthy adults get at least 25g of fiber every day, and whole food sources should be considered first -- not supplements. (Whole foods trump supplements because pills cannot duplicate all the nutrients and benefits of the real deal.) [1,3] Most adults, however, only get about 15 g fiber daily. [1]

Whole grains, along with fruits, vegetables and legumes, all contain fiber. [1,2] When you’re looking at labels, it’s important to ensure that the grains you’re buying are actually whole or fiber-fortified, or else they may contain far less fiber than you expect. Just because a food is made with whole grains doesn’t guarantee it’s a good source of fiber. [6,10,11] Likewise, many foods that are “all bran” or bran-rich are rich in fiber [12] because bran is where the fiber is found. [4,5] Check the nutrition facts panel for at least 3 g fiber per serving to find that good source of fiber. [10] And, remember, whole-grain doesn’t just mean whole-wheat. Some other great whole grains to check out include oats, barley, brown rice, rye and buckwheat. [4,5,10]

Different types of whole grains, such as oats, wheat and corn, contain different amounts of fiber, as well as different vitamins and minerals, so it’s important to cast a wide net when you’re picking your grains. You might want a cereal with bran for breakfast, such asKellogg’s® Raisin Bran®. For lunch, you could have a sandwich on whole-wheat bread, and then include some quinoa and vegetable salad with dinner. [4,5,7,8]

And while we get much of our dietary fiber from whole and fiber-fortified grains, it’s a good idea to mix your whole grains with fruits and vegetables: Put berries on your fiber-rich breakfast cereal or try vegetable sandwiches on spelt bread. Your body needs the various fibers found in these different foods for optimum benefit. [2,9] By exploring all of the foods in which fiber can be found, eating right will never get boring.

Sources:

1. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12146567

2. FDA: How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label

http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm274593.htm

3. Mayo Clinic: Fiber Supplements

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fiber-supplements/AN00130

4. Whole Grains Council: Whole Grains

http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/definition-of-whole-grains

5.Mayo Clinic: Whole Grains:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/whole-grains/NU00204/METHOD=print

6. American Heart Association: Reading Food Nutrition Labels

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HeartSmartShopping/Reading-Food-Nutrition-Labels_UCM_300132_Article.jsp

7. Whole Grains Council: Whole Grains: an Important Source of Healthy Nutrients

 http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whole-grains-an-important-source-of-essential-nutrients

8. Kellogg’s® Cracklin’ Oat Bran®

http://www.kelloggs.com/en_US/kelloggs-cracklin-oat-bran-cereal.html#prevpoint

9. Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fiber/NU00033/METHOD=print

10. American Diabetes Association: Whole Grain Foods

http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/grains-and-starchy-vegetables.html?print=t

11. Nutrition Facts: Whole Grains

http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/hpcd/chp/cdrr/nutrition/facts/wholegrains.html

12. Fiber and sugar content of breakfast cereals

http://www.chop.edu/export/download/pdfs/articles/nutrition-department/40-b-72.pdf

by the Publishers of Prevention