Current standards for classifying foods as “whole grain” are inconsistent and, in some cases, misleading, researchers say.
One of the most widely used industry standards, the Whole Grain Stamp, actually identified grain products that were higher in both sugars and calories than products without the Stamp.
The researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) urge adoption of a consistent, evidence-based standard for labelling whole grain foods to help consumers and organizations make healthy choices.
This is the first study 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, identifying a unified criterion to identify higher quality carbohydrates is a key priority in public health,” first author Rebecca Mozaffarian said.