Monday, June 21, 2010


The explosive knowledge generated during the last 3 decades about the role of dietary fiber has spurred the food industry to develop many "designer" products containing whole grains which are considered high in fiber. Besides whole grains are also supposed to be rich in other nutrients like vitamins and minerals though some of the fiber fractions have the tendency to retard intestinal absorption of some mineral nutrients. While products containing whole grains in significant proportion are beneficial to the consumer, the tendency to add small quantities in a product and claim health benefits is to be frowned upon.

"Whole grains are good (although not the only) sources of B vitamins (which include riboflavin, folate and niacin), vitamin E, iron, selenium and magnesium. One cup of whole-wheat flour has 26% of the recommended daily value of iron, 36% of thiamine, 38% of niacin, 20% of vitamin B6, 13% of folate and 121% of selenium. Putting more whole grains in food usually translates into more fiber, but not always. If a product has just a bit of whole grains, chances are the fiber content will be low. For example, a serving (55 pieces) of cheddar Goldfish crackers made with whole grain has only 2 grams of dietary fiber. The trend toward adding more whole grains to food has been growing steadily since the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services revised the dietary guidelines in 2005, recommending that at least half of all grains eaten be whole grains and that 3 or more ounces of whole grains be consumed per day. As a 1-ounce equivalent of whole grains has about 16 grams of whole grains, the recommendation is to eat 48 grams of whole grains a day".

Though a few manufacturers may be guilty of practicing such devious means to attract gullible consumers, strict labeling regulations can stop them from doing so. As the labeling rules in many countries do not demand exact proportion of ingredients in a product, the consumer may find it difficult to assess the validity of claims about use of whole grains. However, declaring the ingredients in the descending order on the label, with the highest one coming first, can still give a clue regarding the extent of healthy ingredients present in a packed food product. Branded foods with bloated claims must be shunned by the consumers as a part of a sustained campaign to punish the guilty without looking to the government for socour.


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