Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Myth: Multi-grain and whole grain products provide the same health benefits.

Answer: BUSTED!

Manufacturers are able to trick consumers into thinking they are buying a healthier product by using the label 'multi-grain', when actually, the food is not providing the same nutrients as 'whole grain' products. These terms are not interchangeable.

In order to be considered multi-grain, the product has to be made with more than one type of grain; however, this does not necessarily mean it was made with whole grains. When multi-grains are used, you are missing out on valuable nutrients provided in whole grain products. Multi-grain products are commonly processed and refined. Nutrients such as fiber, which helps the body move food along the intestinal tract, and antioxidants, which protect the cells, are lost in the production of multi-grain products.

whole grains
Whole grains are the best option when choosing foods. They provide health benefits that have been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol.

How do you know products are made with whole grains? As stated earlier, manufacturers tend to label products on the front of packages with phrases such as 'made with whole wheat,' or 'multi-grain' but these can be confusing to consumers.

In order to really know if the product has whole grains, it is important to look at the ingredient list. The ingredient list will name the most used ingredient first and so on. If the word 'whole' appears along with the type of grain within the first four ingredients then the product contains whole grains.

The Whole Grains Council recently created a whole grain stamp that manufacturers are able to put on their products. The stamp helps the consumer know if the product contains at least one-half serving or one full serving of whole grain. The good sources will provide one-half serving and the excellent sources will provide one whole serving. The stamp can be found anywhere on the packaging, so a little searching may be necessary.
whole grains stamp

Products that could contain whole grains range from breads to pastas to cereals. It is important to read the labels and know what you are eating.

Whole grains are sure to be found in:
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Bulgar wheat
  • Quinoa

The most important thing a consumer can do is not be fooled by packaging. Read the ingredients and choose whole grains. Help bust the myth!

Contributors: Mallory Bratton, KU Med Dietetic Intern & Denise Schmitz, M.A., R.D., Nutrition & Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 816-482-5854, schmitzda@missouri.edu

1 comment:

  1. really simplistic and helpful. as in some information i have read, i was a little confused in terminology. but i think this answered a lot of my concerns.
    thank you!


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