On every trip to the grocery store, we are bombarded with new “healthy” versions of standby junk-food favorites. Enticing labels scream, Whole grain! Fiber! Vitamins! But are these whole grain-touting products a snack miracle, or marketing scam?
A recent article by Jeannine Stein in the LA Times evaluated the truthfulness behind the health benefit claims of whole grain versions of products such as Pop Tarts, Goldfish, Tostitos tortilla chips, Ritz, and Pepperidge Farm granola. “Whole grain” was a prominent declaration on each label, but the nutrition facts weren’t equally as impressive: “a serving (55 pieces) of cheddar Goldfish crackers made with whole grain has only two grams of dietary fiber,” and the “Wholly Grains smoothie from Odwalla has 54 grams of sugar in a 16-ounce bottle, almost 13 teaspoons of sugar.” So while the phrase “made with whole grains!” may seem to present a healthy alternative, there are still other nutrition factors, like sugar, saturated fats, and artificial ingredients, that need to be taken into consideration when making choices between products.
Your best bet for wholly healthy whole grains? Check on the label for the Whole Grains Council’s Whole Grain Stamp, a postage-sized stamp on products that guarantees a minimum of 8 grams of whole grains (half a serving; 48 grams is recommended daily) in a serving of a product. Better yet, forgo the highly processed foods that line the aisles of many major grocery stores and start with small changes like using whole wheat flour for baking, making granola from scratch, or opting for healthier, yet still affordable options, at Trader Joe’s or Fresh & Easy. Either way, make sure you evaluate nutrition facts as a whole in order to get the whole truth about claims on grains!
–Abby Gould, Sage Wellness Intern