Another push has been made this week to promote the consumption of whole grains, with a new fact sheet sent to thousands of dietitians around the nation aiming to provide people with simple information and advice about the grains.
Sponsored by the Whole Grains Council (WGC) and the Wheat Foods Council, and prepared in conjunction with the American Dietetic Association (ADA), the nutrition fact sheet provides a consumer-friendly definition of whole grains, as well as daily meal suggestions to help people reach the recommended intake levels.
The new information, which will be sent to 65,000 registered dietitians throughout the country, is published in this month's ADA Journal, and has also been added to the 'Nutrition Fact Sheet' section on the association's website.
Its publication comes in the same week as the release of another whole grains fact sheet by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), which again aims to act as a point of reference for consumers who are trying to eat more whole grains but remain confused about their health effects and sources.
The unintentional parallel timing of the two documents indicates a mounting widespread effort to increase awareness about the health benefits of whole grains, and promote consumption.
Found in products such as whole wheat, oatmeal, popcorn and brown rice, whole grains consist of any grain that has retained its starchy endosperm, fiber-rich bran and its germ after milling.
These grains have long been known to provide high levels of fiber, but new research in recent years has also revealed that they provide vitamins, minerals and high levels of antioxidants.
The grains have also been shown to help reduce the risk factors for a number of diseases, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
On the back of this new science, the US government advised in its 2005 Dietary Guidelines that Americans should consume upwards of three ounce-equivalents of whole grain products per day.
However, one problem that still remains, but that is being increasingly addressed by independent industry initiatives, is the identification of whole grain goods on supermarket shelves. Recent surveys have reported that American consumers are more and more aware of the goodness of whole grains, but many remain unsure where they can find these.
The two fact sheets published this week aim to address this problem, and start off the new year with a comprehensive push towards increasing consumption of whole grains.
Consumers are also becoming more familiar with a special symbol designed to quickly identify products that contain significant amounts of whole grains.
The Whole Grain Stamp, introduced by WGC in 2005, is a characteristic black-and-gold symbol indicating the number of grams of whole grain ingredients in a serving of a product.
WGC this week revealed that its stamp now appears on over 1,000 products found in US supermarkets.
According to the organization, consumer focus groups held in October 2006 in three Midwest cities questioned shoppers about the Stamp, and found they thought it carried "helpful and meaningful information." And a Harris Interactive poll carried out in December 2005 found that a majority of shoppers said they would be more likely to purchase a product bearing the Whole Grain Stamp.
To view a list of packaged goods currently carrying the stamp, click here .
To view the new whole grains fact sheet, click here .