Harvard Men's Health Watch

Are your whole grains wholly healthy?

Whole grains provide heart-healthy protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. But in some processed food products, excessive added sugars and calories may be hitchhiking along with the whole-grain goodness, according to a Harvard study. Products that fly the whole-grain flag include breads, bagels, English muffins, cereals, crackers, granola and cereal bars, and chips.

In the study, published in Public Health Nutrition, researchers determined that the best overall indicator of healthy whole-grain products is the American Heart Association's "10-to-1" standard (no more than 10 total carbs for each carb from fiber). These products tend to contain less added sugar and sodium and pack fewer calories per serving.

Simply look on the nutrition label for the total carbs per serving and divide by 10. If the amount of fiber per serving is at least that much or more, then the food passes the 10-to-1 test. Or cook some unprocessed whole grains, like brown rice, and add vegetables.

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