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Tuesday, 29 July 2014 10:04

What Does the "Whole Grain" Label Really Mean?

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What does "whole grain" mean really mean on a label?

In the weight loss phase, Step 1 of our program, grains are not on our program to facilitate a quicker weight loss. However in Step 2 we start phasing moderate amounts of them back in. But we only suggest real "whole grains" food sources, so it's important to know what true healthy grains actually are. Those of you in Step 1 remember this now for later or if you are purchasing grains for your family.

So what's a whole grain and what do you look for?

Whole grains actually contain all three parts of the kernel from the grain. The refining process removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm (the starchy part of the grain). Did you know without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain's protein is lost, along with at least seventeen key nutrients!!! Processors try to add back in cheap synthetic vitamins and minerals to help "enrich" refined grains although true whole grain food items are still healthier.

When foods have been refined they become foods that have been stripped of their inherent nutrients. Whole grains contain disease-fighting phytochemicals and those important B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and yes - all that great fiber. And because they contain all these nutrients people who eat two or three moderate servings every day have been shown to reduce their risk of heart disease by 25-36%, stroke by 37%, Type II diabetes by 21-27%, digestive cancers by 21-43%, and hormone-related cancers by 10-40%! And we must not forget there is less obesity when these kinds of grains are consumed moderately.

When it comes to the more processed whole grain food items like bread and crackers the FDA set a legal limit that something could be called a "whole grain" if it has at least 51% whole grain ingredients, never mind that the rest of it is "enriched," meaning that it is still half refined.

There's even a special seal you can look for, a yellow "Whole Grain Council" stamp. Check to see if it's there. Check the ingredient list too and see if whether the label states it is "100 % whole grain." This helps you find real whole grain products.

According to the Whole Grain Council, "If a product bears the 100% Stamp, then all its grain ingredients are true whole grains. There is a minimum requirement of 16g (16 grams) which is a full serving – of whole grain per labeled serving, for products using the 100% Stamp, this stamp would be the best choice. Go to the Whole Grains Council website for more detailed information.

Choose products that have the FDA Whole Grain stamp. CMWM suggests using stamps that state 22 grams or more whenever possible.

Whole grain foods are finally getting the respect they deserve so it's even a popular buzz word now. But food manufacturers lure customers into buying things in the grocery store which will sell so using words like "multi-grain" on a label which will sell better even though there might not be that many whole grains contained in the actual product! So buyer beware and at least look for that yellow seal.

Even better yet, purchase grains you have to actually cook like bulgur (cracked wheat), oatmeal, whole cornmeal, brown and wild rice verses the white enriched wheat flour, de-germed cornmeal and white rice. (Remember you can always freeze whole grains so you do not have to cook them fresh every single day.)

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