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Most of us have heard that “whole grain” bread is a healthier choice than white bread, which contains refined grains and sugars but lacks fiber. Because of this lack of fiber and other nutrients that are removed during the refining process, it is advised that we consume wheat food products instead of refined ones.
Unfortunately, the “whole grain” label on foods might be somewhat misleading, according to a recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health, published Jan. 14 in the advanced online edition of Public Health Nutrition.
One of the labels that identifies “whole grain” products is the Whole Grain Stamp, which marks foods that meet certain levels of whole grain, have high fiber contents and low amounts of trans saturated fat.
The study demonstrated that the current standards used to classify foods as “whole grain” are not consistent. The study found that the Whole Grain Stamp identified grain products that contained significantly higher sugar and calorie contents than those without the stamp.
The whole grain foods we consume might not be as healthy as we had thought when we selected them off the grocery store shelf because of that Whole Grain Stamp.
The study did find, however, that the standard from the American Heart Association marked healthier foods, since the products that met the association’s standards contained higher amounts of fiber and lower amounts of trans fats, sugars and sodium, without increasing the Calorie content, compared to the foods that did not meet the standards.
Perhaps consumers should start paying more attention to nutrition facts on the American Heart Association labels, instead of just buying products because of the “wheat” label.