December 14, 2009

High Fiber Beer?

With football season in high swing, you've no doubt seen the endless commercials for Bud Light Golden Wheat, "an unfiltered wheat brewed with citrus, a hint of coriander and [the ever ambiguous Bud Light claim of] superior drinkability". But does this focus on wheat mean it's actually any healthier or higher in fiber than a standard domestic beer? Not really.

A standard 12 oz Bud Light bottle has 110 calories and 0 grams dietary fiber. According to Anheuser-Busch, a 12 oz Bud Light Golden Wheat gets you 118 calories and 0 grams of dietary fiber. No one's saying that AB is pushing Bud Light Golden Wheat as a healthier or heartier beer (although there is that 8 calorie per serving difference...) - but since this is a blog about all things fiber, and sometimes wheat related, why not throw it out there?

With food manufacturers scrambling to add dietary fiber in the most inconceivable of products - it's only a matter of time before someone puts fiber and beer together. In fact, the Spanish brewer La Zaragozana already has...kind of. La Zaragozana brews the line of Cervezas Ambar, including their Ambar Cerveza con Fibra.

This nonalcoholic beer (manzana/apple pictured) is made from 40% fruit juice and contains 0% alcohol and 7.5 grams of dietary fiber. While most beer aficionados won't be flocking to a glorified fruit juice to get their fiber - especially one that doesn't contain alcohol - don't be surprised if we see more mainstream attempts to infuse fiber into the beer supply in the near future. 

December 11, 2009

Progresso High Fiber Soup

Progresso has launched a line of high fiber soup. Each one-cup serving has 7 grams of fiber, so a 16 oz can of soup has 14 grams of fiber, approximately half of your daily fiber needs. There are four high fiber soup flavors:
  • Creamy Tomato Basil
  • Hearty Vegetable & Noodle
  • Chicken Tuscany
  • Homestyle Minestrone
Three of the four flavors do have some fiber from beans (great northern, garbanzo & kidney beans), but the majority of fiber in these soups comes from corn fiber, an added isolated fiber, which has not been shown to be as effective at lowering cholesterol as intact fiber. And in order to get that 14 grams of fiber from a can of soup, you do have to suck down 1200-1400 mg of sodium per can (more than half the daily recommended salt intake).

While not as convenient, a healthier, lower-sodium (and cheaper) option is to make your own soup, using dried or canned peas or beans or lentils as the primary source of fiber. Try this lentil soup recipe from Cooking Light, which gets you 20 grams of fiber per serving with about half of the salt of the canned Progresso fiber soups.

December 4, 2009

How Wheat Works

A common criticism of the US food system is our utter detachment from the actual production of food ingredients eaten everyday in our diets. The Natural Resources Defense Council says that most produce grown in the United States travels an average of 1,500 miles before it gets sold.  While consumers are becoming increasingly familiar with the health benefits of dietary fiber, far fewer know much about the nitty gritty of what types of wheat are grown in the US and how that grain product gets from the ground and into our guts.

To help increase knowledge about the production of wheat and wheat foods in the US, the Wheat Foods Council developed How Wheat Works, a rich interactive online overview of how wheat gets from the farm to our fork. The How Wheat Works project uses animated graphics, text and video to guide consumers through the "farm-to-fork experience". The free program is divided into four separate tutorials, looking at planting, harvesting and milling of wheat followed by its trip to our grocery store shelves.

The nutrition education component in How Wheat Works is valuable, reliable and covers the differentiation between whole grain and enriched grain products and the anatomy of a whole grain wheat kernel. There is information on the specific types of wheat grown in the US and participants in the online program can choose to follow production and planting of the type of wheat of their choice.

The four modules of How Wheat Works are packed with statistics and data promoting - as would be expected by the Wheat Foods Council - the role of wheat in the US diet. Some interesting facts about wheat from the website include:
  • The US is the fourth largest consumer of wheat
  • Americans consume more than 1 billion bushels of wheat per year
  • Approximately 3/4 of all US grain products are made from wheat flour
To learn more about How Wheat Works, visit the website to get started.