Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Foods identified as 'whole grain' not always healthy

11.01.2013
New standard needed to help consumers, organizations choose foods rich in whole grains

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. One of the most widely used industry standards, the Whole Grain Stamp, actually identified grain products that were higher in both sugars and calories than products without the Stamp.

The researchers urge adoption of a consistent, evidence-based standard for labeling whole grain foods to help consumers and organizations make healthy choices. This is the first study to empirically evaluate the healthfulness of whole grain foods based on five commonly used industry and government definitions.

"Given the significant prevalence of refined grains, starches, and sugars in modern diets, identifying a unified criterion to identify higher quality carbohydrates is a key priority in public health," said first author Rebecca Mozaffarian, project manager in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at HSPH.

The study appears in the January 4, 2013 advanced online edition of Public Health Nutrition.

The health benefits of switching from refined to whole grain foods are well established, including lower risk of cardiovascular disease, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes. Based on this evidence, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans consume at least three servings of whole grain products daily, and the new U.S. national school lunch standards require that at least half of all grains be whole grain-rich. However, no single standard exists for defining any product as a "whole grain."

Mozaffarian and her colleagues assessed five different industry and government guidelines for whole grain products:

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)

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)

Any whole grain as the first ingredient without added sugars in the first three ingredients (also recommended by USDA's MyPlate)

The word "whole" before any grain anywhere in the ingredient list (recommended by USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010)

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)

From two major U.S. grocers, the researchers identified a total of 545 grain products in eight categories: breads, bagels, English muffins, cereals, crackers, cereal bars, granola bars, and chips. They collected nutrition content, ingredient lists, and the presence or absence of the Whole Grain Stamp on product packages from all of these products.

They found that grain products with the Whole Grain Stamp, one of the most widely-used front-of-package symbols, were higher in fiber and lower in trans fats, but also contained significantly more sugar and calories compared to products without the Stamp. The three USDA recommended criteria also had mixed performance for identifying healthier grain products. Overall, the American Heart Association's standard (a ratio of total carbohydrate to fiber of ¡Ü10:1) proved to be the best indicator of overall healthfulness. 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.

"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," said senior author Steven Gortmaker, professor of the practice of health sociology.

Other HSPH authors included researchers Rebekka Lee and Mary Kennedy; Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology; and David Ludwig, professor in the Department of Nutrition.

Support for the study was provided by the Donald and Sue Pritzker Nutrition and Fitness Initiative; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Prevention Research Centers grant U48DP000064, including the Nutrition and Obesity Policy, Research and Evaluation Network); the New Balance Foundation; the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (K24082730); and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health (R01 HL085710).

"Identifying whole grain foods: a comparison of different approaches for selecting more healthful whole grain products," Rebecca Mozaffarian, Rebekka Lee, Mary Kennedy, David Ludwig, Dariush Mozaffarian, and Steven Gortmaker, Public Health Nutrition, online January 4, 2013

Visit the HSPH website for the latest news, press releases and multimedia offerings.

Harvard School of Public Health is dedicated to advancing the public's health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 400 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 1,000-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children's health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu

HSPH on Twitter: http://twitter.com/HarvardHSPH

HSPH on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/harvardpublichealth

HSPH on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/HarvardPublicHealth

HSPH home page: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu

Marge Dwyer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu

Further reports about: Dietary Disease Food Chain Plus HSPH Nutrition STAMP USDA Whole Cuts of Beef health services trans fat

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>