April 5, 2010

A Lesson in Whole Grains

Posted in Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links, nutrition facts tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:29 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

Image from wikipedia

The National Dietary Guidelines and the American Heart Association both recommend people consume at least 3 to 5 ounces of whole grain a day in order to maintain a healthy diet.  What are whole grains then?  Whole grains are grains that still contain all the original parts such as the outer shell (bran) and inside part (germ).  Many grain foods and flours in the United States are refined to remove these healthy parts.  According to the American Heart Association website, studies have shown that regular consumption of whole grains reduces your risk of heart problems such as heart failure.

The problem is that whole grain foods are not always easy to identify!  Some cereal boxes are now listing their whole grains by amount in grams.  The recommendations though are listed in “ounce servings.”  The Nutrition Facts are not helpful either since Whole Grains are not listed as part of the label.  There is a tool through MyPyramid.gov that may aid in identifying the appropriate whole grain foods and number of ounces per serving.  The web address is: http://www.myfoodapedia.gov/ and it asks you to type in the name of a food (yes, even some brand name foods!).  If you type in Whole Wheat Pita you can see that a medium size pita counts towards 2 ounces of grains but also as 2 ounces of whole grain.  On the other hand, a medium piece of french bread counts towards 2 1/2 ounces of grains but zero whole grains.

You could also look for the Whole Grain Stamp but not even this method is as easy as it sounds!  There are 2 types of stamps: the Whole Grain Stamp and the 100% Whole Grain Stamp.  The regular Whole Grain Stamp means that the food contains at least 1/2 ounces of whole grain per serving.  If the food product has a 100% Whole Grain Stamp then it contains at least a full ounce of whole grain per serving.

1 Comment

  1. Personally, I am very frustrated with the problems associated with calculating “whole grains.” It took me over an hour to research this topic online and figure out what’s what! I feel that Whole Grains should be calculated in grams and added to the Nutrition Facts Labels on all foods. This would allow us to add up our daily amounts of whole grains just as easily as fats, sugars and sodium.

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