Monday, December 20, 2010

Healthy Eating: Fiber in Whole Wheat

I have been taught to avoid breads—they mean fat, right? But whole grains also mean high fiber, which translates to a healthy heart. Whole grains actually soak up cholesterol, especially LDL, or bad, cholesterol. It’s a strong image. For most of my life, I have imagined bread soaking up only the bad things on my plate—gravy, for example. So, when I try to eat healthy, I avoid it. Instead, I should have been imagining what bread was doing inside my body—soaking up bad cholesterol. And I should have been eating it.

Based on my age, I am supposed to have five ounces of grains a day, at least half of which should be whole grains, according to the food pyramid. What’s in an ounce? One slice of bread, a cup of ready-to-eat cereal, a half cup of cooked cereal, or a half cup of cooked rice.

So, in a day, I should have, something like:

A cup of ready-to-eat cereal (1 oz)

Two slices of bread (2 oz)

A cup of cooked rice (2 oz)

Of course, you have to eat your whole grains in a healthy way. Pass up the high-fat butter and margarine as a topping and go instead for heart-healthy olive oil. But keep that low as well. (A tablespoon has 119 calories, all from fat. While that is good fat—monounsaturated—it still can add up.)

I have discovered Sara Lee’s whole wheat bread with 45 calories a slice and five grams of dietary fiber, or 18 percent of your daily value. It’s good, healthy, and filling. Nice work, Sara.

Even knowing this, I recently ate a quick lunch-on-the-go with my family after a funeral. To keep my calories down, I skipped the bread and ate the cold cuts. Good grief. Seriously? Was my nutritional brain born yesterday? Apparently. I ate the unhealthy part of the meal—the cold cuts—and passed up the cholesterol sponges—whole wheat bread. Next time, if I screw my head on, I will do it the opposite.

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