Whole Grains Survey – the New Norm

Whole Grains Council Survey Reveals Whole Grain Habits

It’s Whole Grains Month and it looks like there’s some good news to report on our whole grain eating. A just released survey conducted by the Boston-based non-profit Oldways Whole Grains Council (WGC) shows nearly two-thirds of those surveyed are heeding the dietary advice to “make at least half your grains whole,” with the majority of subjects eating more whole grains than they did five years ago.

While the 2015 Whole Grains Consumer Insights Survey was conducted on Americans, we here north of the border are likely eating in a similar manner. A stroll down the supermarket aisles reveals a host of grains that were not on the shelves even a few years ago.

“For years, most people came nowhere close to whole grain recommendations, so it is encouraging to see that many are now benefiting from switching more of the grains they eat to whole grains,” said Cynthia Harriman, director of food and nutrition strategies, Oldways Whole Grains Council. She adds that the next step is to tempt us to expand our whole grain palates beyond bread, cereal and brown rice to delicious grains like spelt, farro, amaranth and teff.

The push toward whole grains comes as more and more scientific evidence shows that eating whole grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Other benefits include reduced risk of asthma, healthier blood pressure levels, and better weight control.

WholeGrains-the new Norm

Here are some tasty tidbits from the survey:

Whole grain consumption is up
• Nearly two-thirds, or 64 percent (64%), have increased whole grain consumption “some” or “a lot” in the last 5 years.
• Whole grain lovers really love their whole grains. In fact, 2 in 3 respondents who nearly always choose whole grains now have increased their whole grain consumption a great deal compared to 5 years ago.

Choosing whole grains more often
• Almost one-third of respondents (31%) say they nearly always choose whole grains. Five years ago, just 4 percent would have said this.
• Another 32 percent choose whole grains about half the time.
• That means 63 percent are making more than half their grains whole.

Health messages are getting through
• Nearly 9 out of 10 (86%) of those who consume whole grains do so for the health benefits.
• Forty percent (40%) choose whole grains because they enjoy the taste.
• Cost was named as the leading barrier to eating more whole grains (39%).
• Availability can also be a barrier (28%) – as many restaurants don’t offer whole grain choices.

Gluten confusion
• Few fully understand gluten. While more than 1 in 3 identify gluten as a protein and 1 in 5 know it makes dough rise, only 4 percent correctly selected both (and no other options).
• Twenty-one percent (21%) incorrectly think gluten is in all grains. In fact, gluten-free doesn’t mean grain free – even those following a gluten-free diet can enjoy grains such as amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, sorghum, teff, and wild rice.
• 93 percent eat gluten some or all of the time. Of the 7 percent who completely avoid gluten, only 1 in 5 has a medically-diagnosed problem with gluten.

Top 5 Favorite Whole Grain Foods
1. Whole Wheat Bread (31%) (beware if you’re Canadian as if a product simply says whole wheat, it’s likely not a whole grain product).
2. Oatmeal (27%)
3. Popcorn (15%)
4. Whole Grain Cold Cereal (15%)
5. Whole Grain Pasta (8%)

Time to discover other whole grains
• Whole wheat, oats and brown rice are the most popular grains. 9 out of 10 have heard of these grains and most have eaten them.
• Yet, fewer than 1 in 5 has heard of spelt, farro, amaranth, Kamut®, or teff.

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How do you measure up? Have you upped your whole grains? Have they become the new norm for you? Please share in the comment section below.

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Categories: Food Trends, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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