Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fiber and Whole Grains

Last week as I wrote about ways to increase servings of whole grains (16g per serving x 3 per day - at least),  I noted that increasing whole grains and increasing fiber were two different things.
So I will give a very brief description of the difference between the two and then link you to a more expansive explanation from the American Heart Association.
  • Whole Grains have varying amounts of fiber
  • Whole Grains have specific nutrients that we don't get in this same combination from other foods; B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, iron
  • To qualify as whole grain, all 3 parts must be included - the bran, germ and endosperm
  • Refined grains remove the bran and endosperm.  Many times refined grains will be enriched with the vitamins that are already in whole grains.  Enriched means that they add them back in.  Scientists are finding that naturally occurring vitamins and minerals are much more effective at improving health than supplements are - and fortification is similar to supplementation.
  • All whole grains have some fiber, as noted, but not all fiber is a whole grain.  Fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans are all sources of fiber.  Fiber is not a food group so the DGAs recommend foods that have fiber - not fiber itself.
  • Fiber improves digestive health, blood cholesterol and satiety - we feel full longer. 
  • Fiber can be soluble and insoluble - we need both and they do different things.
  • Both whole grains and fiber have been shown to improve health and prevent disease.  This includes some types of cancer, diabetes and most convincingly, heart disease.
On that note - learn more from the American Heart Association by clicking here..

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