Is Your Favorite Whole Grain All That It’s Cracked Up to Be?


Grain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are at least five different standards set by industry, the U.S. government and the American Heart Association that define a product as whole grain. This multiplicity of definitions results in major confusion for consumers as to exactly what is a healthy whole grain.

A group of Boston researchers wanted to find a way to sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak and so they “investigated how five recommended WG (whole grain) criteria relate to healthfulness and price of grain products”. The setting for their research was two major grocery store chains and they evaluated 545 grain products including breads, bagels, crackers, granola bars, chips, and cereals.

They categorized grain products by:

  • Whole Grain stamp (WG-Stamp), which is an industry standard
  • Whole Grain (WG) as the first ingredient (WG-first)
  • WG as the first ingredient without added sugars (WG-first-no-added-sugars)
  • The word ‘whole’ before any grain in the ingredients (‘whole’-anywhere)
  • The content of total carbohydrate to fiber of less than or equal to 10:1 (10:1-ratio).

They also compared each criterion with the levels of fiber, sugars, sodium, energy, and trans-fats in each product and how the criterion impacted on the price of the product.

Here’s what they found:

  • The WG criteria identified products with more fiber than products considered non-WG; the 10:1-ratio products had the greatest differences – 3·15 grams per serving.
  • Products in the 10:1-ratio group had lower sugar, sodium, and likelihood of trans-fats without energy differences.
  • WG-first-no-added-sugars had a similar result to the 10:1 ratio, but there were a lot less products in this group identified as whole grain and these products didn’t have a lower likelihood of containing trans-fats.
  • The WG-Stamp, WG-first and ‘whole’-anywhere criteria identified products with a lower likelihood of trans-fats, but they contain substantially more sugars and energy.
  • Products with the WG-Stamp were $0.04 per serving more expensive and products in the 10:1-ratio group were $0.05 perserving more expensive.

~ by chasm63 on January 19, 2013.

One Response to “Is Your Favorite Whole Grain All That It’s Cracked Up to Be?”

  1. Very soon this site will be famous among all blog users,
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