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Development of an Australian Whole Grain Database

By Sayne Dalton – Dietitian (APD) and PhD candidate at the Smart Foods Centre, University of Wollongong.
There are many challenges involved in getting consumers to eat more whole grain foods.  Knowing which foods contain whole grains and assisting consumers to identify these foods is part of the challenge.  Then, there is unravelling the science on the health benefits of whole grains and further contributing to the evidence-base by conducting dietary research, on specific population groups.
The development of a comprehensive whole grain database is a critical step in addressing these challenges.  A whole grain database provides information on the whole grain content of foods such as breads and breakfast cereals, which may contain a significant proportion of non-whole grain components, such as refined grains or added sugar.  This information may be used in a number of ways, for example:
  • To assist nutrition professionals to identify and direct consumers to foods higher in whole grain
  • To provide a resource for nutritional monitoring of the marketplace and
  • To provide data to measure whole grain intakes in dietary studies.
However, until recently there has been no such database available in Australia to assist with these activities.
To address this gap, as part of my PhD at the Smart Foods Centre, University of Wollongong, I developed a whole grain database that provides nutrition practitioners and consumers with information about the types of products containing whole grains in the Australian market and their whole grain content(1). I applied the database to investigate the whole grain intakes of participants in a dietary trial (results unpublished) and further, to evaluate the whole grain content of food products in the Australian market (results unpublished).
The database is the first of its kind in Australia and one of only a handful in the world that will allow more accurate analysis of whole grain intakes and provide much needed support to research the benefits of whole grains in the diet.
The database was developed by collating data on 385 food products from 46 food companies, with support from the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC), who assisted in facilitating the transfer of the data. There were a variety of products containing whole grains identified in the Australian market. Key foods were raw grains, pasta, breakfast cereals, breads and savoury biscuits. Grain-based foods such as these are important sources of whole grains in the Australian diet and encouraging their consumption aligns with GLNC’s 48 gram whole grain Daily Target Intake(2) and the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines(3).
However, the study suggests that careful food choices are required to assist consumers to identify the most whole grain dense choices. Despite the variety of whole grain products identified in the market, there was marked variation in the whole grain content of products in most food categories. For instance, bread products ranged from 5.1 grams to 70.0 grams whole grain per 100 gram product; whereas, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals ranged from 6.0 grams to 100.0 grams per 100 gram product. The database developed by myself (Sayne Dalton) and colleagues (Prof Linda Tapsell, Dr Yasmine Probst and Assoc. Prof Marijka Batterham)(1) provides a resource for practitioners to identify the types of foods that provide the greatest contribution of whole grain ingredients and complements other tools that assist consumers to identify whole grains at the point-of-purchase; such as the GLNC Code of Practice for Whole Grain Ingredient Content Claims, a voluntary industry standard launched in 2013.
To access a copy of the published article and database click here. To identify whole grain-dense food choices in the supermarket, consumers are also advised to look out for products which are ‘high’ or ‘very high’ in whole grain which will assist Australians in meeting the 48 gram whole grain Daily Target Intake. A full list of products that are registered with GLNC as containing significant amounts of whole grain and aligned to the industry standard can be downloaded from the GLNC website. More information about the GLNC Code of Practice for Whole Grain Ingredient Content Claims may also be accessed from the website.

For further information please contact Sayne Dalton via sct20@uowmail.edu.au.

References
  1. Dalton, S.M.C., Probst, Y.C., Batterham, M.J., & Tapsell, L.C., Compilation of an Australian database of manufactured and packaged food products containing wholegrain ingredients. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 2014. 36(1-2): p. 24-34.
  2. Griffiths T and Nestel P. Developing a target for daily wholegrain intake for Australians. Food Australia. 2006;58(9):431-433
  3.  National Health and Medical Research Council.  Australian Dietary Guidelines. 2013. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.
  4. National Health and Medical Research Council.  Eat for health.  Australian Dietary Guidelines.  Providing the scientific evidence for healthier Australian diets. 2013. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.

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