Interpreting Fiber On a Nutrition Label

I want to bring up the fact of how fiber affects diabetes and what it looks like a label.  So today's labels all look the same on every product. That happened years ago to make it easy for everyone to be able to interpret things off of the label so every manufacturer had to have a label that looked the same.

Nutrition Facts on a Label

So we've got nutrition facts - always look at servings per container, if you're going to eat the whole container.
Serving size - here it's 2/3 of the cups, which is 55 grams. That 55 grams is just the weight of the product. Do not make any nutritional inference from it.
Calories - 230 - now you probably have noticed on the labels of today that this line right here, the calorie line is in really bold letters. That is to make it obvious because of the obesity problem we have in this nation, and parts of the world.

So the facts on the label are fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbs and proteins and then you have daily value over there. The daily value is a percentage. Just act like that isn't there. Because it's a percentage of the information that you can't really do anything about so don't worry about it. Act like it's not there.

So when we get down to total carbohydrates, that's what most of us need to be looking at. But legally, under the total carbohydrates, dietary fiber has to be there and total sugars has to be there. Those are the 2 carbohydrates that by law have to be on the label. There are labels that manufacturers might put more info than that because they want you to see it, but by law they only need these 2 things.

In this example, we have total carbohydrates 34 grams and dietary fiber 4 grams. In this instance, the fiber in it is not going to make that big of a deal because there's only 4 grams of it. If it was 8 grams, it would have a bigger impact.

Well what's that impact? The impact for a diabetic is the fact that fiber and sugar makes up part of this 34, the total. If a lot of it is fiber or if there's a good amount in it, that whole process for that part is going to go slower. So in the end you go from carbohydrates to the glucose molecule in your blood slower, the more fiber that's in it and that's the message that you have to take home. Because with fiber we are the only mammals on the earth that can't process it all and so some of it is not going to be processed and that's how most people know that it affects the GI tract because it bulks things up and makes your GI tract work better. What that same process is positive for a diabetics blood sugar and the conversion from what you ate to the last molecule which is the glucose molecule.

Just bottom line it, you want that fiber number as high as you can get it. So if you have 2 products -lets say they are both around 34 grams of carbohydrates, and you just don't know which one to pick - pick the one with the highest amount of fiber in it. I just wanted to make sure that you all have got the basics of fiber. If a manufacturer wants you to know how healthy and what's in it they will put non soluble and soluble fiber on the label. They don't have to do that, but they will sometimes do it for your benefit and theirs.

The soluble is what is affecting our cholesterol and insoluble is what affects a lot of our GI tract so if you just have a overall good diet, try to eat foods that are whole, eat skins on products, things like that - get high fiber, starches and things like that and that number will go up because most of us Americans don't get enough .Th minimum we need is 25 grams a day and most Americans are hovering around 10 or 12. So always look at this number (fiber) and know that it's part of the total carbohydrates and bottom line, you just want more of it in that total carbohydrate line.

Ready to find out more?

As a Diabetes Educator and Nutritionist I help my patients cope with managing their diabetes - whether it's diet, nutrition, supplements, blood sugar, or pump therapy.

Please reach out and contact me if you need support, I truly understand. I live it every day. 

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