American Society For Nutrition

Whole Grains Benefit Health, Yet Consumer Confusion Looms

Whole Grains Benefit Health, Yet Consumer Confusion Looms

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
Posted on 04/24/2010 at 08:13:31 PM by EB 2010 Blogger
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By: Rebecca Scritchfield, RD, ACSM Health Fitness Specialist
ASN Blogger at EB 2010

We all know that whole grains are good for us. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that "at least half" of all grain intake (whole and refined/processed) should be whole grain. The research evidence is promising. People who consume whole grains are better able to manage a healthy weight, and thus tend to have lower risk of weight related chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Emerging evidence on whole grains indicates a prebiotic effect (food for gut bacteria) with whole grains, which promotes a healthy GI tract and there's also evidence that whole grains are high in antioxidants whereas refined grains are not.

Unfortunately, most people do not meet whole grain recommendations. In fact, the average intake is only one serving of whole grain a day. (whohhh whooonnn) Part of the problem is that consumers are confused. They don't know which foods are whole grain. They are looking at fiber and assuming the product is whole grain. They can't easily estimate their whole grain servings largely because foods are marketed using the words "whole grain" or "made with whole grain" even when they aren't 100% whole grain (they have "enriched" flours on the ingredients list).

Consumers need to be educated on how to spot 100% whole grain foods and products. They need to know that while fiber is important, they need both soluble and insoluble fiber -- and that just because a packaged product has fiber on the nutrition label, it may not be 100% whole grain. The company may have added inulin (a prebiotic fiber). Then consumers need to find easy ways of increasing their whole grain intake so they can meet recommendations.

People who reach whole grain recommendations should experience increased satisfaction and fullness with whole grains, slower rise in blood sugar, and changes in their gut hormones that may regulate appetite.

The symposium was made possible with a grant from The Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition at General Mills. See what they have to say about whole grain at their website.

Rebecca Scritchfield is a Washington, D.C. based registered dietitian in private practice specializing in healthy weight management. She is a member of ASN and is covering several events at EB 2010 through social media.
1 Comment

Great article on whole grain Rebecca, Great info short and sweet.