Category Archives: Whole Grain

Thinking of switching to whole grains? New study shows white bread may promote obesity.

White breadFor the last several years we’ve all heard that switching to whole grain products is a healthy adjustment for our lifestyles. Of course, there are voices contradicting that information telling us that wheat is wheat and grains are grains and there’s no real difference between white bread and whole grain bread. Little by little, thought, we’ve seen an extraordinary number of whole grain products introduced into our food supply. If you’ve been incorporating whole grains into your diet, it’s no longer a difficult proposition to locate the products that fit into your lifestyle. A new study is showing that you’ve really made the right move.

Just two or more servings of white bread could put you on the road to gaining weight and puts you at a 40 percent higher risk of obesity, according to new research focused on the eating habits of university graduates.

A research team monitored the eating and weight fluctuations of 9,200 Spanish graduates over a five-year time span in which participants ate both whole grain and white breads. Those who ate both showed no increased risk while those who only ate white bread and had two or more portions daily were 40 percent more likely to become obese and overweight.

The research showed no definitive link of just eating whole grain bread and potential obesity, and that may be due to the fiber of whole grain bread, states researcher Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, a professor at the University of Navarra in Spain, and colleagues.

“Consumption of white bread [of] two portions per day or more showed a significant direct association with the risk of becoming overweight or obese,” states the researchers.

The news comes amidst a steady stream of research that reveals alarming rates of obesity across the world. The world is getting fatter, states the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013, published in The Lancet. Even as other parts of the world compete with the United States on obesity levels, the overall numbers show 10 countries make up more than half of the world’s obese population.

The white bread report researchers say the finding shows an association between a diet of white bread and a diet of mixed bread intake.

“Essentially it is equivalent to a high consumption of sugar,” Martinez-Gonzalez said. “The problem is similar to what we see with soft drinks, their sugars are rapidly transformed into fat an organism.”

Martinez-Gonzalez recommends switching to whole grain, especially for those trying to lose weight. A recent Cornell University also noted that a diet high in white bread could potentially lead to heart issues.

As we noted, wants to emphasize that finding all sorts of whole grain products has become an easier endeavor. It’s not just bread that’s available — bagels, cereals, and pasta can be easily found in most grocery stores today. Whole grain bread, especially, offers better texture and flavor than white bread. It’s not a difficult transition to make and the health benefits that are just beginning to come to light make it well worth it!

New study confirms that foods labeled as “whole grain” aren’t always as healthy as consumers might think has always taken issue with the labeling of some food products as whole grain when they contain the controversial ingredients consumers in our own community actively look to keep out of their diets. The term “whole grain” has come to be somewhat synonymous for some consumers with healthy. And it’s just not always the case.

A new study coming out of the Harvard School of Public Health is showing that the standards used for the classification of foods as “whole grain” are not consistent and sometimes misleading to consumers.

The study focused on five different industry and government guidelines for whole grain products:

• The Whole Grain Stamp … this is a widely-used packaging symbol for products containing at least 8 grams of whole grains per serving. It was created by the Whole Grain Council which is a non-governmental group that’s supported by the food industry.
• Products with any whole grain as the first listed ingredient.
• Products listing whole grain as the first ingredient without added sugars in the first three ingredients.
• Products with the word “whole” before any grain anywhere in the ingredient list.
• Products with a ratio of total carbohydrate to fiber of less than 10 to 1, which is about the ratio of carbohydrate to fiber in whole wheat .

Over 500 grain products in eight categories were analyzed. The categories included cereals, cereal bars, granola bars, breads, bagels, English muffins, cracker and chips. Each product was analyzed for its nutrition content and ingredient list, as well as the presence or non-presence of the Whole Grain Stamp on its packaging.

The research found that those grain products carrying the Whole Grain Stamp were, in fact, higher in fiber and lower in trans fats. Unfortunately they also contained significantly higher sugar and calorie levels compared to those products that did not picture the stamp on their packaging. The next three focal points (which are from the USDA recommended criteria for these products) also had questionable results in terms of sugar and calorie levels. The products with a carbohydrate to fiber level of less than 10 to 1 (the American Heart Association standard) proved to be the best examples of healthier products. They were higher in fiber, lower in trans fats, sugar, sodium and calories than products not meeting the ratio.

We know that consuming whole grain foods can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, helps to control weight and decreases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Dietary Guidelines for the U.S. now recommend consuming at least three servings of whole grains every day. Unfortunately there is no single standard for the definition of a “whole grain” product.

If you’re a community member, or if you visit our FoodFacts Facebook page, you know that there are products labeled as “Whole Grain” that don’t carry acceptable ratings on our site. We’ve always attempted, and will continue, to call your attention to those brands that are misleading consumers to believe that their products are healthy for you simple because the words “Whole Grain” are on their packaging.

Read more:

10 ways food labels mislead consumers

Day after day we learn more about how misleading food labels continue to dupe consumers with keywords and bold statements that feed into people’s dietary needs and weight loss goals. This doesn’t mean all food labels are lying because plenty of products are “fat free” or made with “real fruit,” but what about the other nutritional facts or ingredients? observes that, unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate all food labels and cannot keep food manufacturers from using clever wording to avoid a potential lawsuit. What you can do is read the nutritional facts and ingredients list to find the truth behind the fancy wording and manipulative marketing. Here are 10 misleading food labels to look out for:

* “Zero grams trans fat”
Since trans fat have become the ultimate no-no in today’s diet, many companies have cut trans fat from their products. However, it has led way to a manipulative marketing move to promote 0 grams of trans fat, without indicating the product’s level of saturated and total fat. Food labels know people are looking for the label that says “0 grams trans fat,” but they may skip over the saturated and total fat amount, which is just as important.

* “All natural”
The “all natural” stamp is one of the most abused and misleading food labels used by food manufacturers today. Many of these so-called “all natural” products use citric acid, high-fructose corn syrup and other unnatural additives, but still get to bear that positive label. Always check the ingredients list to know exactly what’s in your food.

* “Whole grains”
Chances are you’ve seen the label, “Made with Whole Grains,” pop up on bread, crackers or rice products now more than ever. The reality is that many of these whole grain products are actually made with refined wheat flour and maybe a small percentage of whole grains. In order to check the validity of the whole grains label, check out the listed ingredients. Unless “whole grains” is one of the first ingredients on the list or if you see “enriched wheat flour,” it’s likely that your product contains a small percentage of whole grains.

* “Fiber”
Food products that contain fiber has become a growing trend in the food industry because consumers are looking for foods that are going to keep them fuller for longer, help regulate their digestive systems and lower their blood sugar. Shoppers might see their favorite cereal bar or yogurt is labeled “a good source of fiber,” but they won’t see where the fiber comes from listed anywhere. Many of the products you find with the label “contains fiber” actually contain isolated fibers, like inulin, maltodextrin, pectin, gum and other purified powders that are added to boost the not-so-fibrous foods.

* “Light”
When a food label says “light” as in “extra light olive oil,” consumers are misled to think that a product is light in fat or the fat content has been cut in half. Unless the product says reduced fat, “light” is generally referring to a lighter color of the original product, such as light-colored olive oil.

* “Heart healthy”
Many of today’s foods claim to be “heart healthy,” but don’t have FDA approval or scientific evidence to support such bold claims. These types of “heart healthy” labels mislead consumers into thinking they will improve their heart health by eating this particular food. Considering that heart disease is the number one killer in America, this food label is dangerous to promote if it’s not true.

* “Low fat”
The label “low fat” can be very misleading to consumers because, while it may be low in fat, it may also be loaded with sugar or sodium that won’t be highlighted. In addition, manufacturers are playing into people’s awareness of fats and efforts to lower their fat intake by advertising exactly what they’re looking for. Don’t be fooled by a “low fat” food label without examining the rest of the nutrition facts, and making sure that the product is well-balanced and healthy in its other areas.

* “Low sugar”
Just like “low fat” indicators, “low sugar” food labels are misleading for consumers because it plays up one nutritional factor to downplay a not-so-healthy factor, such as a high amount of calories, sugars or fat. Manufacturers also get around saying “contains sugar” by saying “lightly sweetened” or “no sugar added,” but you have to look at how much sugar is in each serving to know for sure.

* “Free range”
The “free range” food label can be found on meat, dairy and eggs at your local grocery store, but this progressive way of farming is not always as it seems. What consumers may not know and won’t see on their “free range” foods is that the USDA regulations only apply to poultry. Therefore, “free range” beef, pork and other non-poultry animals were fed grass and allowed to live outdoors, but their products are not regulated by the USDA. Another misconception consumers have about “free range” is that these products are also organic. Unless it’s labeled free range AND organic, free range animals may be fed nonorganic fed that could contain animal byproducts and hormones.

* “Fresh”
The “fresh” food label can be very misleading to consumers, by making them think their chicken was killed the day before, or their “freshly squeezed” orange juice was prepared that day. The label “fresh” simply means that it was not frozen or is uncooked, but many of these products are allowed to be chilled, kept on ice or in modified atmospheres to keep them from spoiling. does not endorse specific views about nutrition or exercise, but presents interesting news and information worth reading about. As always, consult a physician or nutrition professional before making any major changes to your diet. Be sure to SCORE your foods so that you’re empowered to make good food choices. The Food Facts Health Score is FREE to use with your free membership at