ANAHEIM, CALIF. — The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans no doubt will promote the consumption of whole grains and fiber, but the upcoming Guidelines also could enlighten consumers on how fiber content varies in different whole grains.
A lot of fiber confusion exists among consumers, said Dr. Theresa A. Nicklas, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She spoke June 7 during the presentation "Fiber: The heart of whole grain" at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food expo in Anaheim.
The level of fiber may vary significantly in products containing whole grains, she said. She thus added the creators of the Guidelines for 2010 may want to alter the guidance about eating 3 servings of whole grains a day from the 2005 Guidelines. They may want to consider change it to "fiber-containing whole grains."
"This is not my recommendation," said Dr. Nicklas, who served on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines committee. "It’s something I’m throwing out there that they may want to consider."
The fiber content of whole grains may vary from 3.4% for brown rice to 17.3% for hulled barley, said another speaker, Dr. Michael Falk, Ph.D., executive director of Life Sciences Research Office, Inc., which is based in Bethesda, Md., and provides scientific analysis and advice to government and industry.
Fiber content, the kind of fiber and phytochemical content all vary widely in whole grains, he said. Because of this nutrient variability, the beneficial health effects of one whole grain may not be the same for another whole grain. Such variance makes it difficult to achieve a wide-ranging health claim for whole grains and has implications for national healthy policy and guidelines, Dr. Falk said.
A stronger body of evidence for health claims exists with fiber, he said.
"If you are focusing on the whole grain part, you may be missing the fiber issue," he said.
Dr. Joanne R. Lupton, Ph.D., of Texas A&M University, Texas A&M, professor, said science and government should continue to promote whole grain intake because enough scientific information exists to show independent health effects of both whole grains and fiber.
"We should not be putting down whole grains if they are not high in fiber," she said at the I.F.T. session. "Yes, we should be promoting good and excellent sources of fiber, but at the same time we should be promoting whole grains."
Dr. Lupton, who served on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines committee, added guidance should focus on obtaining whole grains and fiber from nutrient-dense sources, including high-fiber cereals, legumes, vegetables and fruit.
She said the biggest source of fiber from vegetables is french-fried potatoes for Americans while the biggest source of fiber from grain is hamburger buns and hot dog buns.
"One is getting a lot of calories along with this," Dr. Lupton said.