Experts recommend standard definition for whole grain food

Monday, 17 March, 2014

A roundtable of US and European nutrition experts has unanimously recommended the development of a standard definition for whole grain food. The experts recommend that a whole grain food contain at least 8 grams of whole grain per 30 gram serving.

The outcomes of the roundtable - including the recommendation - have been published in a paper in the March issue of Advances in Nutrition.

The roundtable included researchers, educators, policymakers and food and nutrition scientists. These experts were tasked with reviewing the latest whole grain and health science to consider the benefits of whole grain and develop a standard definition of a whole grain food using the latest scientific evidence.

The panel concluded that a food with at least 8 grams of whole grain per 30 gram serving - without a fibre requirement - provides a nutritionally meaningful amount of whole grain and should be considered a whole grain food.

While the definition of whole grain is well established, a consistent definition of what constitutes a whole grain food has not been developed and adopted for use. A definition of a whole grain food would enable consistent product labelling and messaging, encourage manufacturers to produce products with meaningful amounts of whole grain, provide a consistent approach to quantifying whole grain foods in research and reduce consumer confusion, the roundtable concluded.

The lack of a universal definition of a ‘whole grain food’ not only creates challenges for researchers, but also confusion for consumers,” said roundtable participant Dr Joanne Slavin of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota.

“A whole grain food definition would help researchers to quantify the amount and types of whole grains that are linked to health and provide consumers much-needed information to make choices to help them meet the USDA Dietary Guidelines recommendations for whole grain intake.”

Research shows that whole grains provide more than just fibre - they also include beneficial bioactive components such as vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, beta-glucan, inulin and phytosterols. The panel concluded that these additional benefits warrant a whole grain definition independent of fibre.

“When shopping for whole grain foods, many consumers confuse whole grain with fibre,” Dr Slavin said. “While fibre contributes to the health benefits of whole grains, fibre alone does not provide all the benefits of nutrient-rich whole grains such as oats, wheat, barley, brown and wild rice and quinoa.”

The roundtable was convened by Cereal Partners Worldwide and General Mills Bell Institute of Health & Nutrition.

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