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Chapter 7. Breaking It Down (continued)

Eat whole grains.

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:

  • whole wheat
  • wild rice
  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • whole oats/oatmeal
  • buckwheat
  • sorghum
  • whole rye
  • whole-grain corn
  • bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • popcorn
  • whole-grain barley
  • millet
  • triticale

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.

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tip
how to spot a whole grain:

Check the ingredient list. The whole grain should be the first ingredient.

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How many servings of grains should I be eating?

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.

Breakfast:



Lunch:



Dinner:



Snack:



Dessert:



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Jennifer should eat 6 to 8 servings of grains each day based on her calorie needs. She figured out how to spread this out throughout the day. First, she asked herself which whole-grain products she likes. She also asked herself what fortified grain products she likes. Jennifer wrote down the following:

Favorite whole-grain products: whole oat squares cereal, whole wheat bread, and whole wheat pasta

Favorite fortified or enriched grain products: many cereals, white rice, French bread, and bagels

Next, Jennifer thought about how she could plan to eat these foods throughout the day. Keeping in mind what we know about Jennifer’s eating habits, let’s look at what she is planning to eat.

Breakfast: medium banana, fat-free peach yogurt, and coffee with fat-free milk
Lunch: turkey, with whole wheat roll (3 servings); romaine lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, with light Italian dressing; medium orange; and unsweetened iced tea
Snack: calcium-fortified soy drink and whole oat squares cereal (1 cup = 2 servings)
Dinner: pasta and bean salad ([1 cup of pasta = 2 servings], 1/2 cup chickpeas, 1 cup chopped vegetables [carrots, green peppers, and onions], with olive oil) and 1 cup of fat-free milk
Dessert: raspberries (1 cup)

Jennifer has enough grains in her diet. She also has at least half of them as whole grains (5 of the 7 servings are whole grains).

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Which foods contain dietary fiber and how much do they contain? Here are some examples.

Food Grams of Fiber % DV
½ cup navy beans, cooked 9.5 38a
½ cup ready-to-eat 100% bran cereal 8.8 35
½ cup lentils, cooked 7.8 31
½ cup chickpeas, cooked 6.2 25
1 medium baked sweet potato, with skin 4.8 19
1 small pear, raw 4.3 17
1 medium baked potato, with skin 3.8 15
½ cup frozen spinach, cooked 3.5 14
1 medium orange, raw 3.1 12
½ cup broccoli, cooked 2.8 11

a % DVs listed in this column are based on the food amounts listed in the table and a 2,000-calorie reference diet. The DV for dietary fiber is 25 grams.

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.

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Breakfast: medium banana, fat-free peach yogurt, and coffee with fat-free milk
Lunch: turkey, with whole wheat roll (3 servings); romaine lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, with light Italian dressing; medium orange; and unsweetened iced tea
Snack: calcium-fortified soy drink and whole oat squares cereal (1 cup = 2 servings)
Dinner: pasta and bean salad ([1 cup of pasta = 2 servings], 1/2 cup chickpeas, 1 cup chopped vegetables [carrots, green peppers, and onions], with olive oil) and 1 cup of fat-free milk
Dessert: raspberries (1 cup)

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Fiber-containing foods on Jennifer’s menu:
Banana, medium—3 grams of fiber
Whole wheat roll—6 grams of fiber
Lettuce, tomato, and cucumber (1 cup)—4 grams of fiber
Orange, medium—2 grams of fiber
Whole oat squares cereal—12 grams of fiber
Raspberries—8 grams of fiber
Total estimated fiber = 41 grams
Jennifer’s estimated fiber need = 14 g/1,000 calories x 2,000 calories = 28 grams.

She’s done a great job at meeting her fiber needs!



7. Fruits and vegetables are also important sources of dietary fiber.



CHAPTER 7 CONTINUED >



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