Eating whole grains in the morning is a great idea. Can you get them from cereals with front-of-the-box health claims like “Made with whole grain” or “Whole grain in first ingredient”? Nope. These claims are misleading, experts say.
“The simplest thing to do is look at the [actual] list of ingredients,” says Liebman. “The first and second ingredient should be whole grain. Whole grain wheat, whole grain oats. Typically, if you see rice or rice flour, it’s refined grain and that’s not good for you.”
Here’s what to look for in the ingredient list:
- 100% whole grain
- The word “whole”: if it doesn’t appear before each grain, assume the grain is refined.
Here’s what you should be wary of:
- “Made with whole grain.” “This can mean, Made with ‘very little’ whole grain,” says Liebman. Remember, a products ingredients are listed in order of quantity. If the first or second ingredient is refined, the cereal probably isn’t very healthy overall.
- Health claims that highlight “grams” of whole grain. As with sugar, you need to compare the amount of whole grains to the overall serving size. If the serving size and grams of whole grains are close, that means the cereal is almost 100% whole grain.
There are some exceptions to the 100% rule. Some cereals are low in whole grains because they are high in other nutritious ingredients like bran, nuts, fruit and soy. As always, look at the first two ingredients listed.