How to Find Fiber on a Nutritional Facts Label

With the trend toward healthy and wholesome foods, many breads have picked up the phrases “multigrain,” “seven-grain,” “nutra-grain,” “cracked wheat,” “stone-ground wheat,” or “enriched wheat” on the packaging. This must mean that these breads are full of nutritious fiber, right? Wrong.

Unless the word whole appears in the first ingredient, the bread is lacking some of the vitamins and minerals, not to mention fiber, of whole grains. Even a dark brown bread is no guarantee of whole grain; the color could be the result of molasses or caramel coloring. The bottom line: Make sure that the first ingredient is whole wheat or whole grain. Now, if we’re talking oats, simply oats or rolled oats will do.

Another food label problem is the lack of differentiation between complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates (like sugar). Not all carbs are created equal! You can get a sense of the type of carbohydrate by looking at the grams of fiber. The higher the fiber content, the more complex carbohydrates you’re getting. If you don’t see a listing for fiber, that’s because there is none, period. Aim for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. And to make sure that a product doesn’t derive most of its carbohydrates from sugar, check the ingredients for sugar synonyms, such as corn syrup, sorbitol, dextrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, honey, and molasses.

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