While many people know whole -grain products are healthier than refined-grain products, the John Tung Foundation yesterday said that many consumers often have difficulty recognizing whole-grain products, such as the often misidentified “white coixseed” (Job’s tears).
Chiang Wen-chang (江文章), professor at National Taiwan University’s Institute of Food Science and Technology, said white Job’s tears sold in the market, which is often added to soups, are actually refined from unhulled red or brown Job’s tears.
As a result, some parts of the grain have been removed and it can no longer be counted as a whole-grain product.
In addition, he said that product names sometimes confuse consumers.
For example, “foreign Job’s tears,” “small Job’s tears” and “pearl Job’s tears” are not really Job’s tears, but refined wheat germs, he said.
Whole-grain products are those that still contain the integral structure of the original grain, including the bran (the hard outer layer), endosperm and plumule parts in the seed, such as unpolished rice, whole buckwheat and whole millet, Chiang said, adding that the levels of vitamin B1, B2 and B6 are reduced when the grains are refined.
“Whole Job’s tears can help patients with diabetes reduce their levels of fasting blood glucose, whole wheat can reduce cholesterol levels and maintain blood pressure, while whole buckwheat can also reduce blood cholesterol level and act as an antioxidant,” he said.
Every person should eat at least 48g of whole grain (amounting to about a bowl of unpolished rice) every day to help prevent chronic diseases, Chiang added.
“There have been a lot of problems concerning food safety in recent years, so a balanced diet with wide variety of ingredients can help lessen the risks,” said Sheu Hui-yu (許惠玉), director of the foundation’s food and nutrition division, adding that it is recommended that people choose different kinds of whole grain as staple food, or add them into different products for better nutrition, such as adding whole grains to bread, buns or porridge.
Moreover, because many people do not get enough fiber from fruit and vegetables every day, Sheu said the fiber in whole-grain products can act as supplement.
It can also help people control their weight, as it takes longer to digest whole grains, Sheu said.
The foundation said consumers buying whole-grain products should pay attention to whether the shape of the grains is intact, whether the grains are pure and unmixed with other substances and whether the packages have been affected by damp or insects.
It also said that grain product companies should be aware that regulations in Taiwan stipulate that only products containing more than 51 percent whole-grain ingredients can use the Chinese characters “whole (全)” or “unhulled (糙).”