Whole Lot of Confusion Around Fiber and Whole Grains

Whole grains increase fiber intake
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The terms whole grains and fiber cause a "whole lot" of confusion and can add up to a "whole lot" of calories for consumers looking to increase the fiber in their diets.

According to a three-part series examining fiber in Nutrition Today, consumers who eat more whole-grain foods to up their fiber intake could increase their calories by more than 1,200 per day unless they carefully read the Nutrition Facts label and choose higher-fiber versions of the foods they already eat.

"Small steps in your diet can help make a big difference," said DeAnn Liska, PhD, senior director of nutrition science at Kellogg Company and a co-author of the article series. "Choose two or three foods each day—such as beans, fruit and cereal with at least 3 grams of fiber—to boost your fiber intake."

Fiber is an important nutrient beneficial to healthy weight, digestive health and heart health. Yet, less than one in 10 American adults and children get enough fiber in their diets, and most get about half the amount of fiber they need, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine.

In response, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identified fiber as one of four nutrients of concern that Americans need more of in their diets and recommended that the best way for people to meet their fiber needs is to use the Nutrition Facts label to compare whole-grain products and find choices higher in dietary fiber.

"Whole grains can be an important source of fiber, but the reality is that meeting the recommendation of 'making half your grains whole' will only provide about one-third of daily fiber needs for most people," said lead author Betsy Hornick, MS, RD. "So it's important to make your whole-grain choices count by looking for whole-grain products that provide at least three grams of fiber per serving."

This advice is important because the amount of fiber in whole-grain products can vary greatly and leads Americans to believe they are getting more fiber in their diet than they are. According to the articles, consumers should specifically look for grain or whole-grain foods that provide at least a good source (three grams) of fiber to help meet their daily requirements without increasing calories.

For more information, including a “Fiber Tracker,” visit the Kellogg’s website here.