Search Results

Demand for More Whole Grains in Senior Care 

Fiber is important for the elderly to help prevent constipation and improve quality of life, and yet many older adults are falling short on fiber. In this study, 681 dietitians working in long-term (elderly) care answered questionnaires exploring barriers to whole grain consumption for older adults. Overall, 89.5% of dietitians reported that they would like to serve more whole grains. Twenty seven percent of dietitians reported that cost was a barrier to serving whole grains in long term care, and yet 75% of dietitians report that their patients need fiber supplements, averaging upwards of $11-20 a month per patient. Given that whole grains are a natural source of fiber, whole grains may be able to offset some of the cost of fiber supplementation. Other factors influencing the decision to purchase whole grains included dietary needs (such as special considerations for kidney disease), existing food contracts, nutritional content, and acceptance by residents.
Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics. 2017 Oct-Dec;36(4):178-188. (Coffman CA et al.)

Infants Accept Partially Whole Grain Cereal

Early exposure to whole grain foods can shape food preferences later in life, so researchers wonder if it may be worthwhile to start with infants. Infant cereals are one of the first solid foods given to babies to compliment breast milk or formula and are often made from refined grains like white rice or pearled barley. In this study, researchers in Spain worked with parents of 81 infants (4-24 months old) to test the acceptability of 30% whole grain infant cereals (made with whole wheat), compared with a popular refined infant cereal. (Whole wheat was chosen to comply with European infant legislation, to make sure that the amount of fiber was appropriate.) After trying each of the cereals for 3 days in a row, infants were just as likely to accept and finish the whole grain cereal as they were the refined cereal. The researchers concluded that infant cereals are an opportunity to expose young people to whole grains earlier in life, to build a taste for them.
Nutrients. 2017 Jan 13;9(1). pii: E65. (Haro-Vicente JF et al.)

Spice-Focused Nutrition Education Helps Nudge Urban Teens Toward Healthy Foods

Nutrition education is a valuable tool to fight increasing obesity rates among teens, especially for those at a higher risk, such as African-Americans. Researchers compared a nutrition education curriculum focusing on spices and herbs (“Spice MyPlate”) to a basic nutrition education program based on USDA MyPlate guidelines on 110 (predominantly African-American) teens in Baltimore, Maryland. Twelve spices and herbs were chosen for the core focus of the Spice MyPlate curriculum: cinnamon, black pepper, red pepper, basil, garlic, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, rosemary, and cumin. Participants in the Spice MyPlate group reported they were more likely to eat vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean protein after the intervention. They also reported that they would be more likely to eat vegetables and whole grains if they were flavored with spices and herbs.
American Journal of Health Promotion. 2016 May;30(5):346-356. (D’Adamo CR et al.)

Sprouting Brown Rice Improves Eating Quality & Cooking Properties

Sprouting grains, by soaking them and allowing them to germinate, is a popular practice among health conscious consumers and a growing number of food manufacturers. In this review, scientists summarized what we know about how the sprouting process affects brown rice (increases GABA, decreases amylose, slightly increases protein, and other bioactive changes), as well as common practices (time/temperature) for producing these results. Most interestingly, the researchers found that sprouting brown rice “increases the rate of water absorption and softens the cooked [brown rice] kernels, improving eating quality,” and that “stickiness and blandness decreased.” They also report that sprouted brown rice is “easier to cook and required less cooking time” than regular brown rice.
Food Chemistry. 2016 Apr 1;196:259-71. (Cho DH et al.)

US Whole Grain Intake Improves from 2001-2012, Linked with Better Weight

We know that healthy whole grains are growing in popularity, but new data quantify this trend. Minnesota researchers analyzed the whole grain intake and BMI, waist circumference, and obesity of nearly 45,000 children and adults from 2001 to 2012. The scientists found that while less than 1% of kids and 8% of adults met whole grain recommendations (about 3 oz equivalents per day), whole grain consumption has improved in both groups (adults from 0.72 oz equivalents in 2001 to 0.97 in 2012, kids from 0.56 oz equivalents in 2001 to 0.74 in 2012). The biggest source of whole grains for both kids and adults alike were yeast breads and ready to eat cereals. Those eating the most whole grains had a lower BMI and waist circumference, and were less likely to be overweight or obese. The researchers conclude that “greater whole grain consumption is associated with better intakes of nutrients and healthier body weight in children and adults,” and that “Continued efforts to promote increased intake of whole grain foods are warranted.”
Nutrition Journal. 2016 Jan 22;15(1):8. (Albertson AM et al.)

Opportunities for Whole Grains in Manufactured Foods

To encourage people to switch from refined to whole grains, it’s important to make tasty, convenient whole grain foods more widely available. In this review, researchers explore various tactics (sprouting, extrusion, fermentation, enzyme use, etc.) for increasing whole grain content in foods, while improving their sensory qualities along the way. Amid ample evidence that acceptance is similar for both whole grain and refined grain food products, the experts urge whole grain food makers to apply some of these technologies, and lure customers in with better products, not just with health messages. 
Critical Reviews  in Food Science and Nutrition. 2015 Mar 6:0. [Epub ahead of print] (Schaffer-Lequart C et al.)

Habitual Refined Grain Consumers Shift Preferences to Whole Grains

In a small European study, researchers supplied 33 adults who rarely eat whole grains (less than one ounce per day) with diet advice and a variety of whole grain foods. The participants increased their whole grain intake by 500% for six weeks (averaging six ounces per day) so that the scientists could assess diet’s relationship with gut bacteria, body fat and blood chemistry (like blood pressure and cholesterol). While the scientists found no significant health changes during this short-term experiment, what was remarkable is how the participants’ attitudes towards whole grains changed throughout the study. According to the researchers, nearly two thirds (65%) of the participants who provided post study data said they now prefer whole grains, “citing benefits such as improved bowel movements and appetite suppression, as well as taste.” Additionally, “the majority of subjects reported that it was not difficult to achieve the required level,” and a whopping 76% of subjects intend to continue eating and purchasing whole grains.
The Journal of Nutrition. 2015 Feb;145(2):215-21 (Ampatzoglou A et al.)

Kids Eat Whole Grains When They’re Provided

The new school lunch regulations represent large changes to the food environment of children, so it’s important to study how kids respond to food that’s provided to them. In an effort to see how changing the food environment affects the eating habits of kids, researchers assigned 83 middle schoolers to either a whole grain or refined grain group for six weeks. Participants and their families were given weekly grains (like pasta or cereal) based on their assigned group, and participants also got grain snacks at school. By providing children and their families with whole grain foods,researchers observed that the whole grain group was able to increase their whole grain intake from 1 to 4 servings per day. These results suggest that changing the food environment of children is a successful way to get them to eat more healthy foods, like whole grains.
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2014 Sep;114(9):1417-23. (Radford A et al.)

Whole Grain Pizza Crust Popular with Kids

Restaurateurs hesitant to offer healthier alternatives might want to think again. Nutrition researchers at the University of Minnesota conducted taste tests and studied plate waste data with 120 kids in school cafeterias and 394 kids in restaurants. Not only did they find that children consumed as much of the whole-grain pizza as the refined-grain pizza, but they also discovered that liking ratings for the pizza did not differ by crust type. Based on their research, the authors concluded that “the impact on whole-grain intake could be substantial if large, national restaurant chains served pizza made with whole-grain crust.”
Public Health Nutrition. 2014 Aug 16:1-5 [Epub ahead of print] (Tritt A et al.)

Promoting Health Benefits of Brown Rice May Improve Acceptance in India

Brown rice, which contains all of its healthy bran and germ, has more than twice as much fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, and magnesium as refined white rice, as well as more of many other essential nutrients. However, white rice is still more common in many places around the world. Nutrition researchers surveyed 82 adults in Chennai, India to learn about their attitudes and preferences towards different types of rice, and also conducted taste tests. “Cooking quality and appearance of the grains” were the most important factors shoppers considered when choosing rice. While most strongly preferred white rice, 93% of participants were willing to substitute brown rice, if affordable, after the taste tests and learning about the health benefits. The researchers conclude that “education regarding health benefits may help this population switch to brown” rice.
Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2013 Feb;32(1):50-7. (Sudha V et al.) 

Partial Substitution of Whole Grains Boosts Kids' Consumption

Recent research has shown that children’s acceptance of whole grains varies widely from food to food. Kids will happily consume some foods that are 100% whole grain, while turning down others in which only 10-15% of the grain is whole grain. Using this knowledge, it’s possible to design a roadmap for increasing kids’ consumption of whole grains, without risking “pushback” – an important consideration, since the only healthy nutrients are those that are actually consumed. In this study, Len Marquart, Elizabeth Arndt, and colleagues modeled the change in whole grain consumption that could be achieved by switching 15% to 50% of the refined grain to whole grain in breads, pizza crusts, pasta, breakfast cereals, muffins, waffles and other foods kids eat daily. They found that, without changing documented eating patterns in the children, they could raise consumption of whole grains from 6% of total grains to 28% of whole grains with this approach, while also reducing demographic disparities.
Journal of the American Dietetic Association. September 2011; 111(9):1322-8

Kids Accept Whole Grains in School Study

Researchers from the University of Minnesota (including WGC Scientific Advisor Len Marquart) observed students at 10 schools in Minnesota and 7 schools in Texas, to see whether whole grain pancakes and tortillas can readily be substituted for similar refined products. For the study, foods with varying percentages of whole grain content were used. Using both aggregate plate waste measurements and student taste ratings, the scientists noted no difference in whole grain vs. refined grain pancake consumption at both elementary and middle / high schools, while consumption of whole grain tortillas was lower than refined tortillas. In general, elementary students were pickier than middle and high school students, and the use of whole white wheat boosted acceptance over whole red wheat. The researchers concluded that products such as those in the study would increase consumption of whole grains among children and youth.
Journal of the American Dietetic Association. September 2011; 111(9):1380-4