These days you can't turn on the television or open a magazine without stumbling across the mention of whole grains. And for good reason: they're packed with protein and fiber and have a wide range of interesting flavors and textures. But even so, it can still be tough to think of interesting ways to incorporate grains into daily meals. Or is it? One country in particular has increased their whole grain consumption by 72% in the last two years alone: what's their secret?
Last week, the Whole Grain Council reported that Denmark is eating a remarkable amount of whole grains — far more than many countries combined. Their consumption is up 72% over the past two years (they're now eating an average of 55 grams of whole grains each day). Why the increase and why now?
The Whole Grain Council found that there's a lot being done on Danish product labeling that is helping to raise awareness regarding daily grain consumption. It turns out the increase can largely be attributed to a new symbol identifying whole grains on product packaging and a push to develop better, tastier products utilizing grains. Danish citizens aren't necessarily eating more grains in and of themselves, but they are buying pasta and artisan breads that contain them. In short, it's just become easier to identify whole grain products, and there are a wide variety of delicious breads, pastas, cereals, and crackers to get excited about.
In the United States, things aren't all that different, really. We have the Whole Grains Stamp which helps consumers identify products with at least 8 grams of whole grains (and up to 100% whole grain), and more and more packaged foods and baked goods are trying to incorporate whole grain nutrition.
For me, this is where a lot of the confusion comes in: I find the Whole Grain Stamp immensely helpful but when it comes to product claims boasting "whole grain goodness" or "contains whole grains", things can get pretty confusing pretty quickly. I know my family members and many of our friends still struggle with how to select whole grain products they're excited about in the store.
So I'm curious: What would help you to eat more whole grains in your day to day life?
(Images: Megan Gordon)