Don’t Be Tricked by Whole and Multigrain Foods

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

Whole grains and multigrainsWhole grains have become popular for the health conscious, but make sure you know how to select your whole grains correctly.

“20 grams of whole grains, 35% of your daily value of fiber, oat bran, nine grain, low fat blueberry”, don’t these terms sound healthy?

Unfortunately, you can’t believe everything you read……

Read Your Label

  • Look for the first ingredient to say whole wheat, whole oat, or whole brown rice flour. This ensures that most of the product is made from true whole grains.
  • Check the total amount of carbohydrates. Anything more than 30 grams of carbohydrates equals more than 2 grain servings.
  • Check the grams of sugar. Anything more than 5 or 6 grams of sugar is starting to get high.
  • Look for more than 2 grams of fiber.
  • Scan the label for trans fat which is listed as “partially hydrogenated oils”. If you spot trans fat, don’t buy the product.

Stay Away from These Fooling Grains

  • Starbuck’s Apple Bran Muffin: 350 calories, 9 g fat, 520 mg sodium, 64 g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 34 g sugar
  • Dunkin’ Donuts Reduced Fat Blueberry Muffin: 410 calories, 10 g fat, 620 mg sodium, 75 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 40 g sugar
  • Publix Apple Bran Muffin (similar to grocery store bakery muffins): 290 calories, 16 g fat, 36 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 23 g sugar
  • Kellogg’s Low Fat Granola Original (without Raisins) Multi-Grain cereal: 190 calories, 3 g fat, 40 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 14 g sugar
  • Nature Valley Strawberry Yogurt Bars: 140 calories, 4 g fat, 26 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 14 g sugar
  • ZonePerfect Blueberry Pomegranate Protein Bar: 210 calories, 6 g fat, 230 mg sodium, 24 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 16 g sugar
  • Keebler Multigrain Club Crackers: ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), VEGETABLE OIL (COTTONSEED AND PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL WITH TBHQ FOR FRESHNESS), SUGAR, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, TOASTED DEFATTED WHEAT GERM, WHOLE WHEAT, CONTAINS TWO PERCENT OR LESS OF OAT BRAN, SALT, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, LEAVENING (BAKING SODA, SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE), CORN SYRUP, DEGERMINATED YELLOW CORN FLOUR, SODIUM SULFITE, SOY LECITHIN.

These are just a few examples. What you will notice is that the sugars are most commonly high. The next most common problem is that there are just not enough high quality whole grains without having to add all of the extra processed ingredients.

Solution to the Problem

Who says you have to buy these foods? Try making a fruit oatmeal from home, or make your own muffins or bars with whole wheat flour or almond meal. A trick is to use some stevia in your baking to reduce the sugar content.

Seek out new healthy ingredients, eat most foods from home, and practice moderation in your choices.

Have you been fooled by  whole or multigrain foods?

8 Comments

  1. Gregory Brawn

    I love this blog. When I started looking for whole grain foods and read the labels, I started to see that some of them do trick you into thinking that they are the healthy choice. Now, I look at the calories and I agree with the bread from Big Lots! It is a great choice and inexpensive.

    Reply
  2. Kris Reddy

    That’s sad to know that the whole grain products are not healthier if not selected carefully.Nutrition choices are becoming a worry for people these days.

    Reply
  3. Ryan

    For bread to meet my bar for healthiness, it has to be 100% whole grain with the flour recently ground through a low-temperature process (like stone-grinding) and bacterially fermented (like with sourdough). Otherwise, you might as well be eating something else.

    Reply
  4. O.

    I lucked out I found that Big Lots (a discount store for those unfamiliar with it) has %100 percent whole grain bread loaves for about $1.40 on a regular basis. My main concern was the price of these breads at the supermarket vs cheaper breads.

    Reply
  5. Pater Rolf Hermann Lingen

    Sugar is the enemy.
    Although many people say this many times, it stays true. Yes, despite of what atkins- / “low-carb”-believers say, not all carbs are totally equal. The same goes for fats and proteins, btw. Hey, why even bother with a distinction between carb / protein / fat – it is all calories, right? So do not make any distinctions at all. Life can be so easy!

    Sorry for this rant, but for years now I support the movement of consumers who want a clear declaration:
    – Carbs in total *AND* amount of sugar! –

    In cereals / muesli, this distinction is particularly important. Neither do I buy cereals with more than 5% sugar, nor do I buy cereals where the amount of sugar isn’t declared at all.
    Virtually the same goes for “flakes”, “pops”, whatever: Look for the word “sugar”, and prefer products with “no sugar added”.

    Reply
  6. Lana

    I was once easily fooled by the “whole grain” “whole wheat” claims. Until one time I ate the A&W chicken burger on a “whole wheat” bun. I was bored that night and decided to look up the ingredients in that bun…
    ” enriched wheat flour, water, whole wheat flour, yeast*, cornmeal, vegetable oil (Canola or Soybean), oat flakes, glucose-fructose/sugar, salt, vinegar, caramel colour (contains sulfites), flavour (contains sulfites), calcium propionate, sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate, sorbic acid.
    *order may change ”

    I almost cried after reading that. Never again would I be fooled. I especially love the “order may change” so that means the first 4 ingredients could be like “white flour, HFCS, Caramel color..” 🙁

    BTW: That’s what I do now Dr. Sunita!

    Reply
  7. Dr. Sunita Banerji

    As a Nutritionist, I advise my clients to get off a grain diet completely and derive their carbohydrate requirements from fruits and vegetables instead.

    Reply
  8. Spectra

    I try not to buy too many processed foods in general. I get my grains in the form of oats, air popped popcorn, quinoa, and brown rice. I don’t eat breads or pastas very often–too many times “whole wheat” breads/products only have a little bit of wheat flour mixed in with a lot of white flour.

    Reply