New research commissioned by Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW), the joint venture between Nestlé and General Mills, has revealed that there is significant confusion over how much whole grain consumers should intake every day and where to find whole grain in foods.
Although more than eight in 10 people believe it is important to eat whole grain, there are misperceptions about which foods contain whole grain.
One in 10 think bananas contain whole grain, while nearly one in five believe it is typically found in white bread. There is also a perception that whole grain can be found in seeds and nuts.
The research also finds that one-half of those questioned (50 percent) think that people don’t eat enough whole grain because they do not understand the benefits of doing so.
Consumers are also confused about how much is enough when it comes to whole grain in their diets. Positive messages cited by participants include that whole grain can be high in fiber (65 percent) and good for digestion (64 percent), but the broader benefits are not as widely known. Less than half (48 percent) believe it is good for the heart and only 18 percent think that it can help reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes.
Whole grain is an important part of a balanced diet. The World Health Organization recommends an increase in whole grain consumption, along with increases in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts for the prevention of chronic disease. Higher consumption of whole grain has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, obesity, type-2 diabetes and bowel cancer.
Despite the benefits, only three countries – the US, the Netherlands and Denmark – have a quantitative recommendation for whole grain. The USA recommends a minimum of three servings per day (equating to at least 48g), while Denmark recommends between 64-75g per day, depending on gender. Denmark has seen a 72 percent increase in whole grain intake, following the introduction of guidelines alongside a government-backed campaign.
An easy way for people to meet the US whole grain daily recommendation (of at least 48g) is to include eating a bowl of whole grain breakfast cereal in the morning, followed by two slices of 100 percent whole grain bread for lunch and a portion of whole grain pasta or brown rice for dinner, CPW claims.
Since 2003, Nestlé Breakfast Cereals has made whole grain the number one ingredient in most of its cereals, adding 28 billion serves of whole grain to people’s diets, reduced sugar by up to 30 percent and removed 8,000 tons of salt.
Beyond this, Nestlé Breakfast Cereals also helps parents establish healthy eating habits by providing guidance on nutrition topics, including portion size. This contributes to enabling healthier and happier lives for the individuals and families they serve.
David Homer, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cereal Partners Worldwide, says: “We know that whole grain is good for us and that it’s an important part of a balanced diet. That’s why we’ve taken significant steps over the past decade to make our breakfast cereals better, by making whole grain the main ingredient in most of our cereals and improving the nutritional profile of our products.”
“However, our new research shows that people need help knowing how much whole grain to eat and importantly why getting more whole grain into our diets matters.”
“We see an opportunity for governments, academics and industry to back a global commitment to help inform people about whole grain and to increase the availability of whole grain foods. The first step on this journey is to agree to a set of global guidelines for recommended daily whole grain intake.”