On the surface it seems great that so many products are touting their ‘whole grains.’ I mean, who doesn’t want to trade out refined flour for nutritious whole grains?
But the fact that so many products, everything from sugary cereals and waffles to bread to snack foods, have claimed ‘whole grains’ it has stirred some conversation regarding the labeling of such products. Exactly how much of a product needs to be whole grain for it to shout “SOURCE OF WHOLE GRAINS” on the label?
For helpful information around the whole grain discussion, we turn to our friends at the Whole Grain Council. They not only help educate the public on the attributes and benefits of whole grains, they offer a certification program identifying products with at least 8 grams (1/2 serving) as whole grain. Some products that carry the whole grains stamp have a full serving – 16 grams of whole grains! The stamp on the product will tell you how much is contained – so be sure to check it out.
And, in case you’re curious about how Way Better Snacks® stacks up in the whole grain category, we are pleased to report that each serving of our chips contain a whopping 17 grams of whole grains. Not too shabby! In fact, we are allowed to say that our chips are an ‘Excellent Source of Whole Grains.’
Here’s how whole grains are defined:
Whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. If the grain has been processed (e.g., cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded, and/or cooked), the food product should deliver approximately the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in the original grain seed. Whole grains include:
- Wheat – including spelt, emmer, faro, einkorn, kamut, durum, bulgar, cracked wheat, Wheatberries
- Wild rice
Here’s why we love whole grains – studies have shown that eating whole grains on a regular basis can yield the following health benefits:
- stroke risk reduced 30-36%
- type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
- heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
- better weight maintenance
- reduced risk of asthma
- healthier carotid arteries
- reduction of inflammatory disease risk
- lower risk of colorectal cancer
- healthier blood pressure levels
- less gum disease and tooth loss
ABC News did a story last month on the ambiguity around whole grain labeling and some of the misleading steps companies will take to give the appearance of whole grains or the illusion that their products are healthful. One questionable practice is adding caramel coloring to give the appearance of earthy grains. Yuck!
In addition to the confusion around what it means for a product to be ‘whole grain’ similar language like ‘multi-grain’ or ‘7-grain’ is just as vague as the grains aren’t required to be whole or healthful. The FDA is in the process of conducting surveys on consumer awareness and understanding of the various terms being used to describe grain content in products. So, we should see some labeling standards in the near future!