There is significant confusion among consumers across the globe about how much whole grain should be consumed daily, according to new research from Cereal Partners Worldwide.
While more than eight in ten people (82%) believe it is important to eat whole grain, almost the same number (83%) admit they don’t know how much they should consume. Less than half (47%) of those surveyed think they eat enough.
The new study of over 16,000 people across the globe by Cereal Partners Worldwide, the producer of Nestlé Breakfast Cereals, suggests that part of the confusion may be due to people not knowing how much whole grain to consume or where to find whole grain, with almost four in ten (38%) saying they think people don’t know what foods contain it.
One in ten think bananas contain whole grain. Nearly one in five (18%) believe it is typically found in white bread and 14% think it is in white rice.
The results also showed that there is a misperception that whole grain can be found in seeds (28%) and nuts (21%). In fact, none of these foods contain whole grain, which is commonly found in whole grain breakfast cereals, brown rice, whole grain pasta, wholemeal bread and porridge oats.
The World Health Organization recommends an increase in whole grain consumption along with increases in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts.
The research also finds that half of those questioned (50%) think that people don’t eat enough whole grain because they do not understand the benefits of doing so.
Positive messages cited by participants include that whole grain can be high in fibre (65%) and good for digestion (64%), but the broader benefits are not as widely known.
Despite the benefits, only three countries – the US, Netherlands and Denmark – have a quantitative recommendation for whole grain. The US recommends a minimum of three servings per day (equating to at least 48g), while Denmark recommends between 64g and 75g per day, depending on gender. Denmark has seen a 72% increase in whole grain intake, following the introduction of guidelines alongside a government-backed campaign.
Cereal Partners Worldwide CEO David Homer said: “We know that whole grain is good for us and that it’s an important part of a balanced diet. That’s why we’ve taken significant steps over the past decade to make our breakfast cereals better, by making whole grain the main ingredient in most of our cereals and improving the nutritional profile of our products.
“However, our new research shows that people need help knowing how much whole grain to eat and importantly why getting more whole grain in our diets matters.
We see an opportunity for governments, academics and industry to back a global commitment to help inform people about whole grain and to increase the availability of whole grain foods
“We see an opportunity for governments, academics and industry to back a global commitment to help inform people about whole grain and to increase the availability of whole grain foods. The first step on this journey is to agree to a set of global guidelines for recommended daily whole grain intake.”
Newcastle University professor of food and human nutrition Chris Seal added: “Whole grain is an essential component in the diet providing us with an important source of fibre and other nutrients which help to prevent heart disease, diabetes and weight gain.
“Clearly we are not eating enough whole grain globally and not enough is understood about the benefits of it – we need to do more to help people understand how to achieve a balanced diet.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2017