Whole Grain Products Are Indispensable to Health


Food safety has recently drawn increasing public attention, and the public is calling for food safety experts to provide relevant information.

Out of health considerations, many people change their diets to eat more whole-grain breads, but may not in reality be consuming whole grains. By definition, whole grains are grains that have not been refined, and retain all of their components including the bran, germ, and endosperm, intact to provide a complete nutritional profile.

What’s the difference between whole grains, brown rice, and white rice? White rice we have on the table- the bran and germ layers have been removed following harvest. In order for a bread product to be called whole grain bread, whole grains must be used and ground into a fine powder which maintains the same proportion of components endosperm, germ, and bran as the original grain.

The Food and Drug Administration notes that food products are commonly labeled to contain sago, beans, wheat, sorghum, and other grains under labels like “multi-grain, or ten whole grain blend” but that such blends do not necessarily contain the entire whole grain, and that many commercially available food products marked “multi-grain” easily create consumer misunderstanding and confusion regarding whole grain products.

According to the dietary guidelines announced by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, three grain-based meals are recommended daily, with a least one meal based on whole grains.

Liyun Lin, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Hungkuang University, notes that nutrition in whole grains come all of the components- the germ, endosperm, and bran. The bran is rich in fiber and can promote intestinal and digestive health; the germ is rich in vitamin B, vitamin E, and polyunsaturated fatty acids; and the endosperm provides carbohydrates and proteins that are the main source of energy.

Nina Zhen of the Food and Drug Administration announced last year that, products labeled as “whole grain” must contain at least 51% whole grains. If a product is labeled with a specific type of whole grain, it must contain at least 51% of that specific grain (such as whole wheat, whole buckwheat, etc.) in ordered to be labeled “whole grain.” If the product contains whole grains at levels less than 51%, the package can claim “made using whole grain flour” or “includes whole grain flour.”

In many cases where a label claims to be using natural flavors, artificial flavors may actually be included. Professor Lin notes that bread is the most common processed food that includes additives and modifiers, which are added in order to promote yeast growth, gluten development, make the bread softer and more elastic, and promote other desirable characteristics. Professor Lin noted that thought additives are common in bread and baked products, as long as the amount of additives are in compliance with standards, they are not harmful to human health. Professor Lin stated that in order to create the accurate color, flavor, and taste of bread, many processing facilities add flavor and color to bread, adding small amounts of cocoa to increase brown color, or small amounts of blue to moderate the color of a product containing taro, but like other additives, as long as the components are added n amounts that comply with standards, they do not have harmful effects on human health. Professor Lin emphasized the importance that the food industry purchase legitimate food-grade ingredients and additives and not incorporate any non-food grade ingredients into processed foods.

“The softer the bread, the higher the fat and sugar content,” says Professor Lin. Professor Lin notes that oil and sugar are often added to many bakery products, though generally European-style bread and French bread have lower oil and sugar content. Professor Lin stated that natural butter fat is often added to bread, although some bread products incorporate vegetable fat to lower production coast. Lin notes that butter often results in a higher trans fatty acid profile following the baking process, making it less suitable for those at risk for cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

When buying whole grain bread, it is important to carefully read the ingredients label as well as to select and clean and sanitary bakery. Due to the high fatty acid content present in the germ of whole grains, following purchase, whole grain bakery products should be consumed as soon as possible after purchase or opening, and should be stored at room temperature in a dry and ventilated environment, in order to avoid loss of nutrients and prevent spoilage.

Professor Lin notes that all permitted food additives are listed on the Food and Drug Agency’s website, and encourages consumers to report any products that may be mislabeled. To report suspected mislabeling, contact the county and city health bureau advice line at (02) 2787-8200.

Source: Ministry of Health, and Welfare, Food and Drug Administration