February 15, 2013
'Whole Grain' Not Always Healthy
“Current standards for classifying foods as "whole grain" are inconsistent and, in some cases, misleading, according to a new study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers.” This is the opening paragraph of an article that hits at the problem the food industry is promoting and doing to an unsuspecting public. The Grain Foods Foundation must be behind much of this and they are the largest promoter of “whole grains.” Of course, we must not forget the USDA and HHS as they are promoting for the grain producers. Then add the American Diabetes Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to the mix and we have reasons to be concerned about the food we eat.
The study appears in the January 4, 2013 advanced online edition of Public Health Nutrition. This is the link to another article. The authors say a new standard is needed to help consumers and organizations choose foods rich in whole grains.
How the “Whole Grain Stamp” (WGS) became a widely used standard is still a mystery, it is not clearly defined, and different companies use it differently. In actual use, it identifies grain products that contain higher sugars and calories than products without the WGS. The researchers want the adoption of a consistent, evidence-based standard when labeling whole grain foods. This is unfortunately the first study empirically (provable or verifiable by experience or experiment) to evaluate the healthfulness of whole grain foods. They took five commonly used industry and government definitions. This is one way to make them accountable and hold their feet to the fire.
These five definitions are:
1. The Whole Grain Stamp, a packaging symbol for products containing at least 8 grams of whole grains per serving (created by the Whole Grain Council, a non-governmental organization supported by industry dues)
2. Any whole grain as the first listed ingredient (recommended by the USDA's MyPlate and the Food and Drug Administration's Consumer Health Information guide)
3. Any whole grain as the first ingredient without added sugars in the first three ingredients (also recommended by USDA's MyPlate)
4. The word "whole" before any grain anywhere in the ingredient list (recommended by USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010)
5. The "10:1 ratio," a ratio of total carbohydrate to fiber of less than 10 to 1, which is approximately the ratio of carbohydrate to fiber in whole wheat flour (recommended by the American Heart Association's 2020 Goals)
The researchers identified 545 grain products that they applied the five definitions to analyze how they rated. When the WGS was used, the grain products were high in fiber and lower in trans fats. However, the same grain products contained higher levels of sugar and calories when compared to products without the WGS.
The three USDA criteria had mixed results for finding healthier grain products. Considering the American Heart Association's standard (a ratio of total carbohydrate to fiber of less than or equal to 10 to 1), this proved to be the best indicator of overall healthfulness. The study found that products meeting this ratio were higher in fiber and lower in trans fats, sugar, and sodium, without higher calories than products that did not meet the ratio.
The senior author stated, "Our results will help inform national discussions about product labeling, school lunch programs, and guidance for consumers and organizations in their attempts to select whole grain products." Now will the “experts” even have a discussion or will the USDA just claim bad science and continue to give the children food that is loaded with sugar. My bet is on the last statement.