Whole grains have gotten a lot of attention lately. Countless studies have found we need to eat more of them. So now there’s whole grain stamps for cereal boxes and mentions in ingredient lists but there’s still one major flaw- there are no standards for classifying whole grains in processed foods. What does this mean for us? These fancy whole grain-stamped foods may also contain lots of added sugars, salt and trans fats. Pretty crappy, right? I think so too.
So what’s a good-intentioned, health-conscious girl supposed to do among a sea of cereal boxes with Whole Grain stamps?
Don’t worry, some folks over at Hahvahd figured it out for us. A recent study compared nutrients like added sugars, trans-fats and sodium in whole grain foods based on how the whole grains were classified -The Whole Grain Stamp, the order and wording of whole grains on ingredient lists and by looking at the ratio of carbohydrate to fiber on the Nutrition Label.
They found that whole grain foods with at least a 10:1 carbohydrate-to-fiber ratio was the strongest indicator of overall healthfulness when comparing foods.
In other words, for every 10 grams of carbohydrate there should be at least 1 gram of fiber. Why 10:1? That’s approximately the ratio of carbohydrate to fiber in unprocessed wheat -meaning all the good stuff is still there. The foods that met this ratio were higher in fiber and had less added sugar, salt and trans-fats than those that did not meet the 10:1 ratio. This method is also supported and recommended by the American Heart Association.
The math is simple:
- Divide the grams of carbohydrates listed by 10. This is how many grams of fiber you want.
- Compare that number with how much fiber is listed on the label. If the amount on the label is more, you most-likely picked a winner. If it’s less, look at a few other labels and choose the best.
Example: This cereal has 28g of carbohydrate per serving. Divide 28 by 10 to get the number of grams of fiber we want.
- 28 grams of carbs/10 = 2.8
- We want to see at least 2.8g of fiber on the label. This one has 5g, almost double – I’d say it’s a winner.
May your whole grain shopping be healthier & less confusing!