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.
View Comments Stage and screen star Andrew Rannells is returning to the Great White Way in Falsettos this fall. As a fan of the 1992 production, Rannells recently stopped by The Late Show to tell Stephen Colbert how excited he is to celebrate unlikely love alongside Broadway faves like Christian Borle and Stephanie J. Block. However, he definitely won’t forget his “dirtier” roots in works like The Book of Mormon and HBO’s Girls. “During Mormon, we were wondering: ‘I don’t know if the middle of the country’s gonna go for this.’ And Trey [Parker] would be like ‘Well, I’m from the Midwest. Rannells is from the Midwest. That’s where all the dirty people are from.'” Whether he’s playing delightfully dirty, squeaky clean, or anywhere in between, we’re glad to have Rannells back on Broadway. Watch the hilarious interview below, and catch Falsettos at the Walter Kerr Theatre beginning September 29! Related Shows Falsettos Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 8, 2017 Andrew Rannells
And the Winner Is…Budweiser Select?Budweiser Select won the gold for American style Lager at the most recent Great American Beer Festival. Miller High Life won the silver. Pabst Brewing Company won the bronze with their Special Export. I don’t even know what the hell their Special Export is (but I want to try it!).I’ve got nothing against Budweiser or Miller or Pabst. I drink all of those beers. But are they medal winners at this country’s quintessential beer competition? Are these grocery store standards still topping the charts when craft breweries are now making solid representations of lagers?Maybe. Maybe Budweiser’s got the lager dialed down so damned good, the little guy doesn’t stand a chance in that category. Or maybe gold medals don’t mean much, or maybe nobody else bothered to enter their lagers in the GABF. I don’t know. What I do know, is there are a number of great craft lagers out there for you to try, even if they don’t have gold medals swinging from their necks. Lagunitas and Bell’s both make a tasty lager (no, “tasty lager” isn’t an oxymoron). Devils Backbone, out of Virginia, makes the Gold-Leaf Lager, which actually won the silver in the American Style Pilsener category at this year’s competition.I like the lager put out by Hi-Wire Brewing, a new brewery out of Asheville. It’s unfiltered, light-hopped, light-bodied, light everything except for taste. This is a solid lager, people, straight down the style standards, and it’s become my go-to easy-drinking beer. If Budweiser Select is the gold-medal winner for Lagers, then this puppy should go platinum.Follow Graham Averill’s adventures in drinking and Dad-hood at daddy-drinks.com