By Sharlene K. Johnson
Always hungry? Research shows that filling up on foods with fiber can boost your health, keep you from overeating, and help you lose weight. The average American woman consumes about 10 to 15 grams of fiber a day -- about half of what's needed to meet the basic recommendation of 25 grams. And experts say that more is even better -- about 30 to 40 grams a day, according to David L. Katz, MD, MPH, an associate professor adjunct of public health and director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine.
But not all grains were created equal! Before you put that healthy-looking loaf of bread in your shopping cart, be sure you know what you're getting, advises FITNESS advisory board member Kathy McManus, RD, director of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Read the label carefully -- and check the fiber content. In bread, for instance, look for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving (one brand we like: Nature's Own 12 Grain). Choose cereal with a minimum of 2 grams per 100 calories. Other label buzzwords to watch for:
"Whole," as in "100 percent whole wheat" or "whole-grain oats" Ideally, the first ingredient listed should be a whole grain.
"Excellent source of fiber" This means you're getting at least 5 grams of fiber in every serving, while "good source" means that one serving contains at least 2.5 grams of fiber.
Related: Tips to Help You Get Supermarket Savvy
"Graham flour" A type of whole wheat flour. So, yes, it's whole grain. But check the fiber content.
"Whole-grain food" Each serving must contain at least 51 percent whole grains. But, depending on the product, the amount of fiber may still be low. For instance, breads contain more water than cereals do, so even when they're whole-grain, they won't necessarily contain much fiber. Always check the label.
"Made with whole grains" If the grains in question appear far down on the ingredients list, put the product back on the shelf.
Related: 6 Healthy Whole Grain Dinners
"Multigrain" The food is made with more than one type of grain, but not necessarily whole grains. Check the ingredients list and the fiber content.
"100 percent wheat" If it doesn't say "whole," it's refined flour, which means all the fiber and nutrients were stripped away in processing.
"Enriched" This term indicates that some of the vitamins have been added back after processing -- but the fiber hasn't. Skip it.More from FITNESS Magazine: