12 January - 20 June 2016

Healthy differences with wholegrain?

23 Jan 13

A study of 545 whole grain products challenges the industry-supported use (in the USA) of a WG (whole grain) stamp to identify healthy whole grain products.  The study reported in Public Health Nutrition, notes that consumption of whole grain products is frequently recommended for health, but multiple conflicting definitions exist for identifying whole grain. Five such definitions were investigated by this study, via, the industry-sponsored Whole Grain stamp (WG-Stamp); 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); and a content of total carbohydrate to fibre of 10:1.  They then investigated associations of each criterion with health-related characteristics including fibre, sugars, sodium, energy, trans-fats and price, and concluded that a criterion based on a ratio of total carbohydrate to fibre 10:1 may represent a useful method for consumers, policy makers and organizations in identifying more healthful WG products. This conclusion was largely based on the observation that products achieving the 10:1-ratio also contained lower sugar, lower sodium and lower likelihood of trans-fats without energy differences. WG-first-no-added-sugars performed similarly, but identified many fewer products as WG and also not 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 also significantly more sugars and energy.  

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