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These days, many of the most highly processed breakfast cereals and other grain-based foods claim to be good sources of whole grain and fiber, but it isn't necessarily true, New York University nutritionist Marion Nestle, PhD, tells WebMD.
Popcorn, brown rice, whole-wheat flour, and long-cooking oatmeal are good, minimally processed whole-grain foods.
Determining how much whole grain is in heavily processed products is not so easy, Nestle says.
The American Heart Association recommends looking for the words "whole" or "whole grain" before the grain name in the ingredient list. The whole grain should also be the first product listed.
Nestle recommends looking for products that contain at least 5 grams of fiber per serving and that contain only ingredients that are easily recognized.
"If you don't know what a lot of the ingredients are, leave it on the shelf," she says.
The packaging for Kellogg's Froot Loops and Apple Jacks boasts that the breakfast cereals "now provide fiber." But the fiber content of the cereals is just 3 grams per serving.
General Mill's Banana Nut Cheerios and Lucky Charms boxes now say "whole grain guaranteed," but the cereals each contain just 1 gram of fiber per serving.
Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats contain 5 grams of fiber per serving.
While she recommends reading labels, Nestle says focusing on a single food or food component misses the point that a healthy diet should include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.