Not All Whole-Grain Products Are Equal--UPDATED

In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains that simply labeling a food "whole grain" doesn't make it a wholesome food choice. (And he recommends getting only a small percentage of calories from grains at all--in Dr. Furhman's Food Pyramid only 5-20% of total calories are from grains and nuts).

Dr. Fuhrman adds that many whole-grain cold cereals are so processed that they lack an adequate fiber per serving ratio and have lost most of their nutritional value.

Today, there's news the Food and Drug Administration is proposing a new standard a definition of the term "whole grain" to eliminate confusion among consumers. It's not yet law, but may be in a few months, and food companies would then have to change their labeling accordigly. AP writer Libby Quaid describes the proposed definition this way :

The definition says a whole grain must retain its basic structure. It applies to corn, rice, oats and wheat and lesser-known cereal grains, such as bulgur, millet and sorghum. It does not include soybeans, chickpeas, sunflower seeds and other legumes or oilseeds.

The tricky part is what's done to the grain during processing. If it's intact, ground, cracked or flaked, it still is a whole grain. Rolled or "quick" oats are still whole grains. Popcorn is a whole grain. Pearled barley is not a whole grain; too much of its bran layer has been removed.

In addition, pizza or bagels labeled as "whole grain" or "whole wheat" ought to have dough made entirely from whole wheat or whole grain flour, the FDA said.

Why are whole grains better for your health, anyway? In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Whole wheat that is finely ground is absorbed into the bloodstream fairly rapidly and should not be considered as wholesome as more coarsely ground and grittier whole grains. The rapid rise of glucose triggers fat storage hormones. Because the more coarsely ground grains are absorbed more slowly, they curtail our appetite better.


Unlike eating whole-grain foods, ingesting processed foods can subtract nutrients and actually create nutritional deficiencies, as the body utilizes nutrients to digest and assimilate food. If the mineral demands of digestion and assimilation are greater than the nutrients supplied by the food, we may end up with a deficit—a drain on our nutrient reserve funds.

What about bagels? Is the "whole-wheat" bagel you just bought at the bagel store really made from whole grain? No; in most cases, it is primarily white flour. It is hard to tell sometimes. Ninety-nine percent of pastas, breads, cookies, pretzels and other grain products are made from white flour. Sometimes a little whole wheat or caramel color is added and the product is called whole wheat to make you think it is the real thing. It isn't. Most brown bread is merely white bread with a fake tan.

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Chuck - April 16, 2011 5:24 AM

It's hard to get away from grains completely. Lately I've started eating Ezekial 4:9 Sprouted grain "100% whole wheat" bread. I usually eat 3 pcs. a day. I'd like to know if Dr. Fuhrman has any reason to NOT eat this bread?

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