We have to talk about whole grain labels since it’s getting more and more popular on a healthier lifestyle. These are some insights you have to know.
The first thing to know is that those whole grain foods are more useful and are a better way to invest money since it’ll have more nutrients.
The problem remains on companies that try to take advantage of this new tendency to eat whole grain meals. Hence, these companies are creating “false” whole grain products.
Those are false whole grain products because only 10% are whole grain products and the rest is not. So, the label of “whole grain” is not enough.
Whole grain labels
The label itself can be a little bit confusing since now you find a lot of products with that label. So what really means whole grain?
You need to know what whole grain means so you are not scammed with the products that you buy.
Wheat, buckwheat, bulgur, corn amaranth, barley, millet, teff, triticale, quinoa, rice, rye, oats, sorghum and much others can be considered whole grain when it contains it’s three anatomic parts that are endosperm, germ, and bran.
Here’s an illustration so you can have an idea of what I’m talking about.
As you can see in the illustration:
- The hull: The inedible outer layer of a whole grain that protects the inner kernel from sunlight, pests, water and disease.
- Bran: The multi-layered outer skin of the kernel. It has fiber, antioxidants, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, B vitamins and phytonutrients.
- Endosperm: It’s the food supply that surrounds and provides nutrition to the germ.
- Germ: The embryo. It will sprout into a new plant if fertilized by pollen. It has antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin E, phytonutrients and unsaturated fats.
By the way, you may encounter something called groat which is hulled grain, it means that it has been fragmented.
For example, I consume hulled oats which are a whole grain because contain the three anatomic parts but it’s fragmented for easier consumption.
Note: Since I talked about oats, you should know that I soak them in water for 20min then I add honey and start eating it. That’s simple and easy.
Now let’s get back for a moment on whole grains benefits:
- Whole grains are rich in magnesium which is a staple for more than 300 enzymes in our body.
- Whole grains are high-quality carbs and should never be compared to processed foods carbs. The source matters.
- Our digestive system digest whole grains perfectly without rush so our body can use it properly and also our [microbiome] enjoy it.
- Whole grains are also rich in vitamin E, zinc, and niacin which provide overall health improvement and especially for eye health.
- Since whole grains are perfectly digested, it improves our metabolism which means that it’s a carb that will not make you fat but will make us stronger.
Now that you know the benefits and it’s importance you might be thinking that the companies are making false claims that can affect our health, but actually it’s legal. It could be different for each country but with the FDA it is good enough if some of the ingredients are whole grain to consider the whole product as a whole grain product.
The FDA recommends searching for labels that say something like “100% whole grain” instead of “whole grain”.
But still, the recommendation that I give –no matter where you live or where you are– is to touch the grains so you can know if those are whole grain.
Since you cannot touch everything in a supermarket just check out the grains from the ingredients list. Obviously, it will be easier if you buy the whole grains separately.
For example, I buy whole grain rice and in the package, as an ingredient, it says whole grain rice. The same with others like pasta, it should list the ingredient as whole wheat flour or something like that.
Hope this will give you tools to be smarter than food companies.
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