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From: Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN (novick.vegsource.com)
Subject:         Re: Whole Grain Foods
Date: September 28, 2007 at 5:22 am PST

In Reply to: Whole Grain Foods posted by Lou on September 28, 2007 at 2:39 am:

Hi Lou,

Thanks for the question. I think this is an area that is very confusing.

> When you refer to whole grain foods, are you including foods that may contain whole grain food substances (e.g. whole wheat flour), but nevertheless have been altered through the mechanical processing to make a flour?

First, so everyone is clear and we are all on the same page.., refining is the removal of the bran and germ and processing is the grinding into the flour.

No. While there are many who count whole grain "processed" products (i.e., bread, crackers, cereals etc) as whole grain. I do not and I think it is a very important distinction. When I discuss whole grains, I mean "intact" whole grains like brown rice, oat groats, unhulled barley, buckwheat groats, etc

Anything that has been ground into a flour has been processed, and it has not only can it still lose some nutritional value, it has become very calorie dense. In a nation that keeps getting bigger, this is the big concern.

Most "intact" whole grains like i mentioned above have a calorie density around 500 calories/pound, which is relatively low. This means you can eat them, without a huge concern of overeating on them. Most processed whole grain products have a calorie density of around 1200-1500 calories/pound. These are much easier to overeat on. For the record, the calorie density of a processed whole grain (whole wheat bread) is not much different than the calorie density of a refined and processed grain (white bread). While the nutrient content will be different, the calorie density is about the same.

Think about it. What is easier to overeat on? 5 small bowls of oatmeal or 5 slices of whole wheat bread?

>>Are these foods healthy to eat?

If you are referring to the ground up "processed" whole grain products, like whole grain breads, crackers, cereals etc, I think they should be limited in ones diet, if they are included at all. And, if one does choose them, they need to meet the guidelines I recommend. Often these products are not only calorie dense but have added salt, sugars, and sometimes unhealthy fats.

Bread products (even whole grain ones) often have 2-3x the amount of salt per serving, than potato chips.

Bread is not the staff of life.

>Secondly, is eating a whole wheat berry cereal preferable to eating a 100% whole wheat bread?

Yes. 100% :)

>>Finally, should whole grain foods be limited in contrast to vegetables, fruits and legumes?

Yes. I like to look at it that vegetables, fruits, and legumes should be emphasized to optimize your diet first. I think there is room in most peoples diets for whole grains but yes, on a calorie for calorie basis, veggies fruits and legumes are considerably more nutrient dense and vegetables and fruits are much lower in calorie density.

As I like to say, go for the Greens, Beans and Berries!

However, most people can include up to 3 servings of "intact" whole grains a day with no problem. Few are going to live on just Green, Beans and Berries. I like to include a serving or two of whole grain brown rice, oats, barley or buckwheat on occasion.

Now, what I find interesting in this area, is the USDA, and many other health organizations are recommending 3 servings of whole grains a day. However, when you listen closely to the information, they say a serving of whole grains is 1 oz. So, they are recommending 3 oz a day.

This is CRAZY, yet, no one catches the problems with this.

The only whole grains that have a serving size of 1 oz are the ground up "processed" whole grains (like breads, cereals and crackers), which are the ones that are also the most calorie dens and usually full of salt, sugar and unhealthy fats. This is NOT a good recommendation.


The serving of an "intact" whole grain is 1/2 cup, which, depending on the intact whole grain you choose, in its ready to serve form, weighs about 3-4 ounces.

The only one who benefits from the "1 oz serving" recommendation is the food industry. Their profit margin is much higher on a bread, cracker or cereal made from a ground up "processed" whole grain than from just selling the plain old intact whole grain "as is".

Cheerios costs way more than just plain oats and the profit margin is much higher. Cheerios has lots of salt added to them also.

See the problem?

In a nation that has an obesity problem, we should be encouraging the intake of 'intact' whole grains, which are some of the most filling foods there are per calorie over the calorie dense processed whole grain products.

Hope this helps

In Health
Jeff

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