Current standards for classifying foods as “whole grain” are inconsistent and, in some cases, misleading, according to a new study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers. The Whole Grain Stamp, one of the most widely used industry standards, actually identified grain products that were higher in both sugars and calories than products without the stamp. The researchers urge adoption of a consistent, evidence-based standard for labeling whole-grain foods to help consumers and organizations make healthy choices. This study is the first to empirically evaluate the healthfulness of whole-grain foods based on five commonly used industry and government definitions.“Given the significant prevalence of refined grains, starches, and sugars in modern diets, [having] a unified criterion to identify higher-quality carbohydrates is a key priority in public health,” said first author Rebecca Mozaffarian, project manager in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at HSPH.The study appeared in the Jan. 4 online edition of Public Health Nutrition.The health benefits of switching from refined to whole-grain foods are well established, including lower risk of cardiovascular disease, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes. Based on this evidence, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans consume at least three servings of whole-grain products daily, and the new U.S. national school lunch standards require that at least half of all grains be whole-grain rich. However, no single standard exists for defining any product as a “whole grain.”Mozaffarian and her colleagues assessed five different industry and government guidelines for whole-grain products:The Whole Grain Stamp, a packaging symbol for products containing at least 8 grams of whole grains per serving (created by the Whole Grain Council, a nongovernmental organization supported by industry dues)Any whole grain as the first-listed ingredient (recommended by the USDA’s MyPlate and the Food and Drug Administration’s Consumer Health Information guide)Any whole grain as the first ingredient without added sugars in the first three ingredients (also recommended by USDA’s MyPlate)The word “whole” before any grain anywhere in the ingredient list (recommended by USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010)The “10:1 ratio,” a ratio of total carbohydrate to fiber of less than 10 to 1, which is approximately the ratio of carbohydrate to fiber in whole-wheat flour (recommended by the American Heart Association’s 2020 Goals)From two major U.S. grocers, the researchers identified a total of 545 grain products in eight categories: breads, bagels, English muffins, cereals, crackers, cereal bars, granola bars, and chips. They collected nutrition content, ingredient lists, and the presence or absence of the Whole Grain Stamp on product packages from all of these products.They found that grain products with the Whole Grain Stamp, one of the most widely used front-of-package symbols, were higher in fiber and lower in trans fats, but also contained significantly more sugar and calories compared with products without the stamp. The three USDA recommended criteria also had mixed performance for identifying healthier grain products. Overall, the American Heart Association’s standard (a ratio of total carbohydrate to fiber of equal or less than 10-to-1) proved to be the best indicator of overall healthfulness. Products meeting this ratio were higher in fiber and lower in trans fats, sugar, and sodium, without higher calories, than products that did not meet the ratio.“Our results will help inform national discussions about product labeling, school lunch programs, and guidance for consumers and organizations in their attempts to select whole-grain products,” said senior author Steven Gortmaker, professor of the practice of health sociology.Other HSPH authors included researchers Rebekka Lee and Mary Kennedy; Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology; and David Ludwig, professor in the Department of Nutrition.Support for the study was provided by the Donald and Sue Pritzker Nutrition and Fitness Initiative; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Prevention Research Centers grant, including the Nutrition and Obesity Policy, Research and Evaluation Network); the New Balance Foundation; the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health.
ANAHEIM — For a few years, the biggest decision hanging over the Angels’ front office was whether they would be able to sign Mike Trout to an extension. Now, it’s whether they’ll be able to lure one or two marquee pitchers this winter.But looming just in the background, there is Andrelton Simmons.As he finishes what he called a “disappointing” season, Simmons is approaching the end of the seven-year extension he signed with the Atlanta Braves before the Angels acquired him.Simmons is set to become a free agent after the 2020 season. Historically, elite defensive shortstops like Omar Vizquel, Barry Larkin and Ozzie Smith all played the position until they were 40. Cal Ripken Jr. made it until 35 before moving to third base.Simmons, a four-time Gold Glove winner, might be in that group.“I don’t see why not,” he said. “I don’t feel like I lost any steps. This year I kind of did (because of the ankle injury), but right now I feel really good about the ankle situation. I feel pretty good about moving around. I don’t see why not. I feel good at shortstop right now.”Angels general manager Billy Eppler, who worked for the Yankees throughout most of Jeter’s career, said a player’s mind can counter the effects of age.“I compare him to an elite point guard who has high court awareness and and anticipates the ball really well,” Eppler said. “Your overall baseball intelligence can help you continue to be impactful at a position as perhaps your sprint speed or overall foot speed or agility might start to regress.”This season, perhaps because of the ankle injury he first suffered lunging for first base on May 20, Simmons has sprung some holes in his game.Simmons’ Ultimate Zone Rating is the lowest of his career, pro-rated by playing time. His Defensive Runs Saved, however, are about the same as last year, on a per-game basis. Fielding percentage is considered an incomplete measure of defense, but Simmons’ right now has a career-worst .969 mark.“It’s hard for me to critique myself,” Simmons said. “I only see what I didn’t do well. I don’t know what the numbers say I’ve been doing. I know I’ve made some mistakes here and there. Everybody does, except Omar Vizquel. I feel like I could have done better overall. Not terrible, but not as good as I would want.”Manager Brad Ausmus said Simmons is “still the best defensive shortstop in the game.”At the plate, the decline has been more dramatic. All three elements of Simmons’ slash line – a .256 batting average, .301 on-base percentage and .355 slugging percentage – are worsts in his four seasons with the Angels.Statcast metrics that grade hitters on the quality of contact, not just the results, also rate Simmons in the bottom 2 percent in the league in expected slugging percentage and expected weighted on-base percentage.The injuries are likely responsible for much of that. Simmons was out for about five weeks with the first ankle injury. Then he came back – quicker than expected – and played for about a month before getting hurt again, missing three more weeks.“It’s been kind of a chopped-up season for him,” Ausmus said.Simmons and Eppler said rhythm at the plate is tough to establish with significant gaps in playing time.“I think that had a big impact,” Simmons said. “It’s not the only thing. I remember seeing Chipper Jones going through a little procedure with knee stuff and picking up right where he left off. It doesn’t happen in every case. This year has been a little tougher for me getting back into a rhythm and feeling comfortable.”Considering the way Simmons’ season has gone, it would be no surprise if the Angels waited until at least the middle of next season before deciding if they want to sign him to an extension.They can also further evaluate David Fletcher and Luís Rengifo, either of whom could become the everyday shortstop if Simmons isn’t around beyond 2020.Related Articles “It’s crossed my mind,” Simmons said, “but not seriously. I’m just trying to get back in good shape and start swinging the bat as well as I know I can.”The situation with Simmons is tricky because this year has been one of his worst, which he and the Angels attribute to a pair of ankle injuries that cost him two trips to the injured list.Also, Simmons just turned 30. His next contract will start with his age-31 season, which is approaching dangerous territory in shortstop years.Over the past 10 seasons, just 18.4 percent of the players who played at least 50 games in a season at shortstop have been 31 or older. Only 13.3 percent were 32 or older, and 9.5 percent 33 or older.The exceptions to the rule have been players such as Derek Jeter, who played shortstop until he was 40. Jimmy Rollins played shortstop until he was 36, and José Reyes until he was 34. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone Or, the Angels could sign Simmons to an extension this winter, reworking his deal to lower his 2020 salary from $15 million, which would create more payroll space to add pitching. When the Angels signed Justin Upton to an extension in November 2017, they reduced his 2018 salary by more than $6 million to create payroll flexibility.A much more radical scenario is that the Angels could trade Simmons this winter, which would clear the entire $15 million to make upgrades elsewhere.That seems unlikely, though, considering how highly the Angels still think of him, even after an injury-marred season.“We understand what Andrelton brings,” Eppler said, “and value him playing in the middle of the diamond.”UP NEXTAngels (LHP Andrew Heaney, 4-4, 4.30 ERA) vs. Rays (TBD), Friday, 7:07 p.m., Fox Sports West, 830 AM Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter