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If you’ve ever wondered about the diﬀerence between grams of ﬁber and grams of whole grain in a product, you’re certainly not alone – this is a very common source of confusion, even among health and medical professionals. We frequently hear from people who want to know why the whole grain grams listed on the Whole Grain Stamp (or elsewhere on a product’s packaging) don’t match up with the grams of ﬁber listed on the Nutrition Facts Panel. Have no fear! We’re here to explain this diﬀerence, to help dispel the uncertainty you might feel, and to give you more conﬁdence in your understanding of whole grain labeling!
Let’s address the confusion. Whole grains are a food group (just like fruits, or vegetables), and ﬁber is a nutrient (like protein, or vitamins). Just as individual fruits and vegetables contain their own unique mix of vitamins and minerals, diﬀerent whole grain ingredients contain their own combination of nutrients. Fiber is a nutrient found in signiﬁcant quantities in many whole grains. In fact, whole grains are a bit famous for their ﬁber content – it’s one of the components people talk about most. But the reality is that whole grains are made up of a LOT more than ﬁber alone. Whole grains contain antioxidants, lignans, phytoestrogens, B vitamins, vitamin E, copper, magnesium, zinc, and much, much more. Fiber is just one component among these many parts that make up a whole grain.
Looking back at our initial question, the reason you’ll often see products with more grams of whole grain than ﬁber is that ﬁber is only one small (but signiﬁcant) part of that whole grain ingredient. Rather than duplicating readily available information about a product’s ﬁber content, the Whole Grain Stamp oﬀers information about the product’s whole grain content, which is usually otherwise unavailable to the consumer and is not included on the Nutrition Facts Panel.
Let’s look at a few examples. A product with 18g of whole wheat ﬂour is only expected to contain about 2g of ﬁber. And it’s important to keep in mind that the amount of ﬁber in diﬀerent whole grain ingredients varies a lot too! Brown rice (at about 3.5% ﬁber) is naturally much lower in ﬁber than whole grain wheat (at about 10.7% ﬁber), which means that a product with 18g of brown rice may only contain about 0.5g ﬁber. Of course, we’re just talking about the ﬁber found in the whole grain ingredients within a product. Your favorite products may have additional ﬁber from extra bran, resistant starch, or other high-ﬁber ingredients (like nuts, seeds, fruit, etc.).
We like to remind people that not all ﬁber is created equal. Research has shown that the ﬁber from whole grains may oﬀer speciﬁc health beneﬁts that can’t be replicated by the ﬁber found in other foods, like fruits or vegetables. Eating a wide variety of healthy foods – including whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables – is the best way to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients and various types of ﬁber your body needs to take care of itself well.
Curious about how your favorite whole grain stacks up? You can learn more about the ﬁber content of various whole grains on our website. (Caroline)
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