Food Mistake #1: You reach for multigrain bread or cereal
Foods labeled 7-grain or multigrain may seem like the healthiest choices
—especially with new findings showing that a diet rich in whole grains protects against heart disease, cancer, and other ills.
The famed Nurses' Health Study documented lower rates of heart disease and stroke among whole grain eaters. Experts don't know all the reasons behind the benefits, but they do know that intact grains are rich in fiber and nutrients—including vitamin E, B vitamins, and magnesium—that are stripped away when grains are refined into flour.
Unfortunately, many foods are only posing as rich in whole grains. "Take a closer look at the labels and you may find there's not a single whole grain in them," says Cynthia Harriman, director of food and nutrition strategies for the Whole Grains Council, a nonprofit consumer group in Boston.The Reason:
Labels can claim that products contain grains even if they're highly processed and stripped of most of their nutrients and all of their fiber. "White flour is made from grain, after all," says Harriman.
Learn the lingo of food claims. Bread that's 100% whole grain means just that—it contains no refined flour. Cereal that's made with whole grain may have a little or a lot. Crackers labeled multigrain may not have whole grains at all.
To be sure you're getting the grains you want, check the ingredients panel. Whole grains should be the first or second ingredient listed. Luckily, finding whole grain products is easier now that manufacturers supplying at least 16 g of whole grains per serving—what's considered an excellent source—are stamping their packaging with the Whole Grains Council's logo.