Chapter 7. Breaking It Down (continued)
Whole grains are an important source of dietary fiber and other nutrients.7 Healthful diets rich in dietary fiber have been shown to have a number of beneficial effects, including decreasing risk of coronary heart disease and promoting regularity. Some examples of whole-grain products could include whole wheat bread, whole wheat cereal, and brown rice.
But, wait a minute. Have you heard carbohydrates are bad? That we should not be eating them? Well, that’s not true. So, we are here to help clear up the issue. Foods containing carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthful diet. In addition to whole grains, healthy foods that provide carbohydrates, as well as many other nutrients, are fruits, vegetables, and fat-free and low-fat milk products. Unfortunately, many of us don’t always choose the best carbohydrate foods. There are some foods with carbohydrates with added sugars or added fats we need to watch out for: cakes, cookies, crackers, candy, and doughnuts, to name a few.
Foods with carbohydrates that many of us need to eat more of are those that contain dietary fiber. One example is whole grains. In addition, some refined grains can be good for us because they may be fortified with folic acid and other essential nutrients, which we discussed in chapter 5, "A Calorie Is a Calorie, or Is It?"
OK, we know we are throwing a lot of terms out there…whole grains, refined grains, and fortified foods. A more detailed explanation is in "Food Groups to Encourage", in part V, but here is a brief explanation:Whole grains are just that—whole. Nothing has been added or taken away by processing. When whole grains are processed, some of the dietary fiber and other important nutrients are removed. A processed grain is called a refined grain. Some refined grain products have key nutrients, such as folic acid and iron, that were removed during the initial processing and added back. These are called enriched grains. White rice and white bread are enriched grain products. If you read the packaging for these foods, you will see the word "enriched." Some enriched grain foods have extra nutrients added. These are called fortified grains. Many ready-to-eat cereals are fortified.
You may be asking yourself, "What is the bottom line?" Here it is: At least half of the grains you eat should be whole-grain; other grains should be fortified or enriched. We have an easy way for you to remember: Make at least half your grains whole.
Whole grains are an important source of fiber. Many packaged foods have fiber information on the front of the package. For example, the package might say "excellent source of fiber," "contains fiber," "rich in fiber," or "high in fiber." The Nutrition Facts label will list the amount of dietary fiber in a serving and the percent Daily Value (% DV). Look at the % DV column—5% DV or less is low in dietary fiber and 20% DV or more is high.
Check the product name and ingredient list. For many but not all "whole-grain" food products, the words "whole" or "whole grain" may appear before the name (for example, whole wheat bread). Remember, though, since whole-grain foods cannot necessarily be identified by their color or name (for example, brown bread, 9-grain bread, hearty grains bread, and mixed grain bread are not always whole-grain), you need to look at the ingredient list. The whole grain should be the first ingredient listed. The following are some examples of how whole grains could be listed:
How much dietary fiber do you need? The recommended dietary fiber intake is 14 grams (g) per 1,000 calories consumed. Yes, we know—more counting. But take heart—your healthy heart, that is—much of the time, the grams of fiber are already counted for you on the Nutrition Facts label. The more calories you need, the more fiber your body needs. And, that is why the more calories you need, the more servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains you get to eat. Ahh…so there really is some logic behind all of this.
Look at "My Healthy Eating Plan." How many servings of grains do you need each day? How does this number sound to you? Does it seem like a lot? Or, do you usually eat that much each day? Do you usually eat too many servings each day?
Let’s look at Jennifer’s plan below and see how she fit in her grains.
Now, it’s your turn. Write down, in the space below, the whole-grain and fortified and enriched grain foods you like to eat.
Whole-grain foods I like are:
Fortified and enriched grain foods I like are:
Now, write down on the next page when you could consume these foods throughout the day.
Which foods contain dietary fiber and how much do they contain? Here are some examples.
Let’s do a check on Jennifer’s selections for the day to estimate whether she ate enough fiber. Below is a list of Jennifer’s food choices and on the next page, an estimate of the grams of fiber in the foods.
Fiber-containing foods on Jennifer’s menu:
She’s done a great job at meeting her fiber needs!
7. Fruits and vegetables are also important sources of dietary fiber.