Tanya's Tasty Tips: Answers to Readers' Questions

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Q:I'm confused about the difference between whole wheat and whole grain? I thought that whole grain was supposed to be better. But, recently I bought some whole wheat rolls that had 5g of fiber, and the whole grain rolls had only 3g of fiber per serving. Isn't more fiber better? What gives?

A:Having "whole grains" is one of the most popular marketing claims and the most confusing.Lately it seems that you can find "made with whole grains" on almost all products, including sugary breakfast cereal. But don't confuse "whole grain" with "whole wheat."The impression may be that "whole grain" is a good source of fiber.In reality, refined white flour (no fiber) - with just a touch of whole wheat flour added back in - can be listed as "whole grain."That's why many items that say "made with whole grains" have virtually no fiber.

Instead, look for products made from 100 percent whole wheat. If "whole wheat flour" is not the first ingredient, skip it.It's the whole wheat flour that contains fiber. Fiber is essential for weight management (it keeps you feeling full on few calories) and for reducing the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, adult onset diabetes, breast and colon cancer.

Q:How safe are organically grown foods? Aren't some of the chemicals we use for our protection? On both crops and on livestock?

A: Organically grown foods are just as safe as non-organic foods found in your local markets. What makes a food organic is that is was produced without using conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients, or radiation.The USDA had developed strict labeling rules to help consumers know the exact organic content of the food they buy.Look for the USDA Organic seal on produce and food containers.

Food that isn't organic does not pose a danger to your health. The USDA spends billions of dollars on testing to make sure that the chemicals and fertilizers used to grow produce and to feed to livestock do not pose any health threats to the public.Whether you buy organic or not is a personal decision.Just keep in mind that the healthiest diets are based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low fat dairy items.Eating organic potato chips is not going to help you lose weight!

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD