How to Judge the Healthiness of Grain Products
How to choose healthy bread and baked goods from the nutrition label
Trying to decide what kind of bread to buy? What granola bar, cookie, snack food, bagels, banana bread, or what pancake mix is best?
Two tips for you:
- Make sure the package says “whole grain”, so that you get all the vitamins and fibre from the bran of the grain.
- Use the 5-to-1 Rule of Carbs to Fibre
Whole Grains Only Please
Manufacturers are tricky about hiding refined grains, labels with “multigrain, or “stone-ground” or “100% wheat”, “cracked wheat”, “seven-grain” or “bran” are usually NOT a whole grain product. They are trying to hide the fact that they are using non-whole grains.
Look for the specific words together “whole grain” in front of the ingredient. Such as “whole grain wheat”, or “whole grain corn” or even “whole grain white wheat” (white wheat is a type of wheat). Then, apply the 5-to-1 rule to double-check it’s healthy.
The 5-to-1 Rule
Dr. Gregor from NutritionFacts.org recommends the 5-to-1 carbs to fibre rule in his book How Not To Die. This book is full of information about foods and studies showing how certain foods prevented or reversed or caused disease in study participants.
The 5-to-1 rule says: choose products that have a ratio of carbohydrates grams to fibre grams that is 5 or less.
Refined grains are going to have a higher ratio than 5 because they have too many carbs and not enough fibre.
Look at the Nutrition Facts on the package, divide the grams of carbs by the grams of fibre, if it is 5 or less, then it’s a healthy product.
If the result is more than 5 then you are not getting enough fibre compared to the amount of carbs in that product – skip it.
A ratio higher than 5 means it’s probably made from white flour and or has a lot of sugar added.
How Not To Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease
This book has a great deal of science based information about foods that have been proven to prevent and reverse disease.
the Blue Menu pancake mix that I veganized in my Whole Weekend Waffles recipe, has 21 g of carbohydrate and 5 g of fibre.
21 g / 5 g = 4.2 carbs to fibre ratio – the ratio is 5 or less and is low enough to fit in the healthy category.
Example 2 – Let’s compare the carbs to fibre ratio in this Aunt Jemima Mix:
For Aunty Jemima Carbs: 27 g / Fibre 1 g = the ratio is 27. Wow! Big difference. Definitely over 5! Avoid products like this.
Something for you to know… breakfast cereals are going to be higher than 5 for the most part… not healthy. Too much sugar, not enough fibre – ’cause guess why? They are too processed.
Why Does the 5-to-1 Ratio Matter?
More fibre per carb gram means the grain is closer to it’s original natural state.
There is more about this in the How Not to Die Book, but some important information to know is that when grains are ground into flour or puffed, they are handled by our bodies very differently than whole intact grains.
Ground flours are digested more rapidly and completely. This raises their glycemic index and leaves fewer leftovers for the microbiome of bacteria in your gut.
When grains are processed into flour, almost all of the starch is digested in the small intestine, leaving nothing for your lower gut bacteria. If this happens a lot in your body, it results in an imbalance, and bad bacteria can take over and increase your chances of inflammatory diseases or colon cancer.
So, ground whole grains are better than refined because they leave more behind for your gut bacteria, and unprocessed intact whole grains are the best.
What I’ve been saying! Whole plant-based foods. They will make you thinner too – harder to overeat on whole grains…
If you want to go even healthier with your breakfast, skip grains that have been ground into flours, and go for intact whole grains – like oatmeal.
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