Whole-Grain Products May Not Be Healthy, or Contain Whole Grains

Scientific American reports that whole-grain labels may be lying to consumers

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Whole-grain products may not be as healthy as consumers think.

You’re trying to eat healthy, so you opt for the whole-grain product this time, right? Not necessarily.

According to the American Society for Nutrition, whole grains rich in fiber can help lower the risks of heart disease and diabetes. Yet many of the whole-grain products available today don’t truly contain whole grains. Some may even be more harmful than helpful.

Scientific American reports that the marketed definition of whole grain as defined by the American Association of Cereal Chemists in 1999 does not actually involve processing the grain as a whole. Instead, the whole-grain label applies to any mixture of parts, endosperm, germ, and bran, which could be found in a whole grain, a process that The Daily Meal has already reported on.

These processed whole grains have lower fiber and nutrient levels. Since it is the fiber and bran that helps to lower risks of disease, these whole-grain products are not as nutritionally valid as they claim to be.

Processed whole grains can also cause insulin spikes that can increase the risks of blood sugar disorders and diabetes over time. This is because the processing, intended to extend the products’ shelf life, removes a layer of fats from the grain, making it easier and faster for the body to absorb sugars.

Companies can also add unhealthy additives like sugar and sodium to these whole-grain products because they know consumers will buy more and at higher prices simply because the label falsely insinuates the product is healthy.

Whole grains are still the healthier option over refined, but consumers should be prepared to read nutrition facts carefully before making their next cereal-aisle purchase. 

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