Contains 18 Grams of Whole Grain
“There’s a sucker born every minute.” P.T. Barnum
This is the mantra of many manufactured and fast food marketing departments. How do you make a product or food with little or no nutritional value appear to be healthy for you or at least healthier?
Food manufactures and restaurants know many Americans want healthier foods so they manipulate information to make their products appear healthier than they really are. One major example is whole grains and dietary fiber.
The American diet based on refined grains like white flour and rice is very low in fiber. The grain’s fiber containing bran is removed during the refining process. As a result, 1 cup of refined white flour, about 140 grams, has 3.7 grams of fiber compared to 16 grams of fiber in 1 cup of whole wheat flour. Generations of Americans have been raised on refined white flour breads, cakes, cookies, pastries, buns and more.
So how much fiber is in 18 grams of whole wheat flour? It is a simple calculation:
1. Divide 18 grams by 140 grams.
2. Multiply the answer above by 16.
3. For this example, the answer is about 2.0 grams.
Marketing department’s advertisements and labeling rely on the perception the product has 18 grams of fiber per serving. Eighteen grams of fiber is 50 to 75 percent of the daily recommendation of 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day.
But wait. The nutrition facts label states each bun has 6 grams of dietary fiber. How is that possible if each bun is made from only 18 grams of whole grain? Is it a special high fiber flour or does each bun have more than 18 grams of whole grain?
According to the ingredients label, the extra fiber comes from sugarcane fiber a by product of the sugar refining process used to make paper and other products.
So what is the significance of prominently labeling the bag with the amount of whole grain per bun? Not much beyond informing the consumer that the product is made with whole grain and the ingredients label validates the claim. Beware of prominent health claims on the package. Most have little or no significance beyond marketing hype.
Useful information is found in the nutrition facts label and ingredients list. The buns are made from whole grain which is good. They are almost a low sodium food with 170 mg per bun and they contain no refined flour. Each bun contains 1 teaspoon of sugar which is a lot for such a small bun.
Food manufacturers and fast food restaurants want customers to believe their foods are healthier than they actually are. A commercial for a major fast food restaurant proclaimed the English muffins in their breakfast sandwiches are made with “6 grams of whole grain.” Again, the advertisement does not claim their breakfast sandwich provides 6 grams of fiber. According to the nutrition information on their website their breakfast sandwiches, made with an English muffin, provides 2 grams of fiber. That is twice the fiber in a regular English muffin, but you’d have to eat 3 breakfast sandwiches to get 6 grams of fiber. Eating three sandwiches provides 900 calories, 15 grams of saturated fat and 2,340 mg of sodium equivalent to eating 1 teaspoon (5ml) of salt.
English muffins provide 1 to 8 grams of fiber depending on the type of flour used or fiber added. Muffins made with only enriched wheat flour (white flour) provide 1 gram of fiber per muffin, whole wheat English muffins have 3 to 4 grams of fiber, and multigrain muffins can have up to 8 grams.
Adding one gram of fiber hardly constitutes a healthy breakfast. Eating one medium banana provides 4 grams of fiber and no fat. A bowl of oatmeal has about 5 grams of fiber. Eat both and you have 8 to 9 grams of fiber, 1 gram of saturated fat, less than 100 mg of sodium and can lower your blood cholesterol.
Emphasizing a minimal amount of whole grain per serving instead of the amount of fiber per serving is an unethical marketing tool for fast foods, processed foods and snack foods that have little or no nutritional value.
Your body needs 25 to 40 grams of dietary fiber per day. Filling up on breads and other products made with enriched white flour adds calories and sodium but very little fiber. To increase your intake of fiber eat:
Foods made with whole grains.
Plenty of fresh fruits and raw or cooked vegetables.
Vegetable soups which are an excellent source of fiber, filling and low in calories.