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Identifying whole grain foods: a comparison of different approaches for selecting more healthful whole grain products
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Details:
  • Pubmed ID:
    23286205
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC4486284
  • Description:
    Objective

    Eating whole grains (WG) is recommended for health, but multiple conflicting definitions exist for identifying whole grain (WG) products, limiting the ability of consumers and organizations to select such products. We investigated how five recommended WG criteria relate to healthfulness and price of grain products.

    Design

    We categorized grain products by different WG criteria including: the industry-sponsored Whole Grain stamp (WG-Stamp); WG as the first ingredient (WG-first); WG as the first ingredient without added sugars (WG-first-no-added-sugars); the word ‘whole’ before any grain in the ingredients (‘whole’-anywhere); and a content of total carbohydrate to fibre of ≤10:1 (10:1-ratio). We investigated associations of each criterion with health-related characteristics including fibre, sugars, sodium, energy, trans-fats and price.

    Setting

    Two major grocery store chains.

    Subjects

    Five hundred and forty-five grain products.

    Results

    Each WG criterion identified products with higher fibre than products considered non-WG; the 10:1-ratio exhibited the largest differences (+3.15 g/serving, P<0.0001). Products achieving the 10:1-ratio also contained lower sugar (−1.28 g/serving, P=0.01), sodium (−15.4 mg/serving, P=0.04) and likelihood of trans-fats (OR=0.14, P<0.0001), without energy differences. WG-first-no-added-sugars performed similarly, but identified many fewer products as WG and also not a lower likelihood of containing trans-fats. The WG-Stamp, WG-first and ‘whole’-anywhere criteria identified products with a lower likelihood of trans-fats, but also significantly more sugars and energy (P<0.05 each). Products meeting the WG-Stamp or 10:1-ratio criterion were more expensive than products that did not (+$US 0.04/serving, P=0.009 and +$US 0.05/serving, P=0.003, respectively).

    Conclusions

    Among proposed WG criteria, the 10:1-ratio identified the most healthful WG products. Other criteria performed less well, including the industry-supported WG-Stamp which identified products with higher fibre and lower trans-fats, but also higher sugars and energy. These findings inform efforts by consumers, organizations and policy makers to identify healthful WG products.

  • Document Type:
  • Collection(s):
  • Funding:
    K24 DK082730/DK/NIDDK NIH HHS/United States
    K24082730/PHS HHS/United States
    R01 HL085710/HL/NHLBI NIH HHS/United States
    R01 HL085710/HL/NHLBI NIH HHS/United States
    U48DP000064/DP/NCCDPHP CDC HHS/United States
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