Buying Nutritious Breads, Cereals, Rice, and Pasta

Full of essential nutrition, whole grains are the cornerstone of a healthy diet. But too often, shoppers are offered fat- and sugar-laden choices, devoid of nutrition and high in empty calories.

Thick-sliced, thin-sliced, with sugar or without, whole-grain or white, this category has grown to one of the most confusing and calorie dense in the store. Shop carefully and heed these hints.

  • When you buy breads, make sure that the first grain on the ingredient list is a whole grain, such as whole wheat, oats, or millet. Note that rye and pumpernickel breads aren’t whole grain, even though their color may make you think that they are. Their fiber content is similar to that of white bread, but the calorie content is often slightly higher, because molasses is added for color.

  • Baked goods should have 3 grams of fat or less per serving. And cereal should have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.

  • Pizza dough or crusts should be whole wheat. Search them out or ask your grocer to stock them.

  • Frozen waffles and pancakes should be lowfat.

  • Baked goods from the in-store bakery don’t usually have nutrient labeling. Look at the ingredient list to see what kinds of flour are used. Go for the ones that list whole-grain flours first.

  • Avoid giant muffins, biscuits, and scones. One has several servings’ worth of fat and calories.

  • When you read labels on packaged mixes, be sure to look at the As Prepared column. Many mixes call for fats or eggs to be added in preparation.

  • Brown rice has almost three times the fiber of white rice.

  • Ramen noodle soups are flash-cooked in oil before packaging, which means that they’re high in fat.

  • A sugar-sweetened cereal that has 8 grams of carbohydrate per serving has the same amount of sugar as an unsweetened cereal to which one rounded teaspoon of sugar has been added.

  • Seeded crackers have slightly more calories than plain ones, but they have more fiber, too.

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