These tips can help you better understand food labels and fiber content.
100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat means the product contains no refined white flour.
Whole grain Most of these products contain little or no refined white flour. Look at the label's ingredient list to see how far down on the list the enriched wheat flour, unbleached white flour, or wheat flour appears--the lower the better.
Whole-grain white This label usually appears on bread, but it does not necessarily mean anything specific. In the best case scenario, the bread was made with an albino variety of wheat. Most bread with this label contain a mix of whole and refined flour from red wheat. Look for the brands that contain more whole flour, and less refined flour.
12-grain or multigrain It does not matter how many grains are in a product. It matters how many of those grains are whole grains.
The FDA defines whole-grain foods as those containing 51% or more whole-grain ingredients by weight per reference amount customarily consumed. By law, bread labeled as "whole wheat" must be made with 100% whole-wheat flour. However, "wheat bread" often contains a combination of whole-wheat and refined white flour. Don't be fooled by the color of the item, caramel coloring can make refined products look brown.
Check the ingredient label for the first ingredient. What type of flour is it? The first ingredient on the label is the ingredient found in the largest quantity in that food item. When shopping look for the key word "whole" (as in whole wheat or whole grain) in the first few ingredients. Examples of whole grains are barley, brown rice, bulgur, corn, oats, quinoa, rye, and wheat. Also, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, and spelt are considered whole grain. Try something new to incorporate more whole grains, fiber and some extra nutrients into your diet.
A refined grain is one in which the husk, bran and germ have been removed, leaving the endosperm. When grains are milled (processed or refined) the bran and germ portions are removed. This removes 80% of the nutrients.
Labeling Terms for Fiber Check the "Nutrition Facts" label to find out how much fiber is in a serving of the food. If the label states "high fiber" it means there are 5 grams of fiber or more per serving. If the label states "good source" it means there are 2.5 to 4.9 grams of fiber per serving. If the label states "more or added fiber" it means that at least 2.5 grams more per serving as compared to the standard serving size of the traditional food.
The Whole Grains Council, a private business, has developed a "Whole Grains Stamp" that identifies foods that contain 8 grams of whole grains (or half of an ounce-equivalent). This stamp is used by many manufacturers to help consumers easily identify whole grain foods. Visit their website at www.wholegrainscouncil.org for more information.
Consume 3 or more ounce-equivalents of whole grain products per day.
Diana Young, RD, LD/N, CDE
Registered and Licensed Dietitian
Certified Diabetes Educator