Published: February 24th, 2013.
- The USDA definition of “whole grain” refers to any mixture of bran, endosperm and germ in similar proportions that would exist in an intact grain. However, the grains can be processed so that all of its parts are separated and broken down before being incorporated again into foods.
- The FDA only requires a food product to consist of 51% whole grains (by weight) to be considered a “whole grain food.”
- To add even more confusion, the Health Canada website states the following: “…as sold in Canada, whole wheat flour may have much of the germ removed. Therefore, 100% whole wheat bread may not be whole grain…”
- The US and Canadian governments do not have proper regulations for whole grain labeling and, as a result, misleading and false labeling practices are perfectly legal. This is great for protecting food industry profits but not so great for consumers that are fooled into buying unhealthy products.
- Professor Ludwig from the Harvard School of Public Health conducted very definitive studies showing the clear difference in how truly whole and intact grains are metabolized by the body versus processed “whole grains.” The processed grains led to higher sugar spikes as well as to overeating.
- Foods labeled with a “Whole Grain” stamp often contain more sugar and more overall calories than similar products without the stamp.
- Processing techniques, utilized by the big players in the food industry, degrade natural antioxidants and change the chemistry of the food to create a final product that is void of any real nutrients and harmful to your health.
- The differences are clear scientifically and also in practice; we’ve seen individuals consume truly whole grains (sprouted) for the first time and report not only better digestion and elimination, but also a sustained amount of energy lasting for many hours.
Even health conscious individuals are often manipulated by companies that are legally permitted to advertise false claims and to lie on food labels. This is where we begin to question our humanity and to ask why are there not stronger regulations in place to protect the consumer?
You should be able to make healthy food choices without having to sift through mountains of misinformation. As always, our biggest defense against these unethical practices is to become better educated.
Health & Wellness Educator