Identifying Whole Grain Products

The Whole Grains Council has created an official packaging symbol called the Whole Grain Stamp that helps consumers find real whole grain products. The Stamp started to appear on store shelves in mid-2005 and is becoming more widespread every day.


With the Whole Grain Stamp, finding three servings of whole grains is easy: Pick three foods with the 100% Stamp or six foods with ANY Whole Grain Stamp.

The 100% Stamp assures you that a food contains a full serving or more of whole grain in each labeled serving and that ALL the grain is whole grain, while the 50%+ Stamp and the Basic Stamp appear on products containing at least half a serving of whole grain per labeled serving.


Until the Whole Grain Stamp is on all foods, how can consumers know if a product is whole grain?

First, check the package label. Many whole grain products not yet using the Stamp will list the grams of whole grain somewhere on the package, or say something like “100% whole wheat.” You can trust these statements. But be skeptical if you see the words “whole grain” without more details, such as “crackers made with whole grain.” The product may contain only miniscule amounts of whole grains.

Words you may see on packages

·         whole grain [name of grain]

·         whole wheat

·         whole [other grain]

·         stoneground whole [grain]

·         brown rice

·         oats, oatmeal (including old-fashioned oatmeal, instant oatmeal)

·         wheatberries


What they mean

YES — Contains all parts of the grain, so you’re getting all the nutrients of the whole grain.


Words you may see on packages

·         wheat

·         semolina

·         durum wheat

·         organic flour

·         stoneground

·         multigrain (may describe several whole grains or several refined grains, or a mix of both)


What they mean

MAYBE — These words are accurate descriptions of the package contents, but because some parts of the grain MAY be missing, you are likely missing the benefits of whole grains. When in doubt, don’t trust these words!


Words you may see on packages

·         enriched flour

·         wheat flour

·         degerminated (on corn meal)

·         bran

·         wheat germ


What they mean

NO — These words never describe whole grains.

Note that words like “wheat,” “durum,” and “multigrain” can (and do) appear on good whole grain foods, too. None of these words alone guarantees whether a product is whole grain or refined grain, so look for the word “whole” and follow the other advice here.


If the first ingredient listed contains the word “whole” (such as “whole wheat flour” or “whole oats”), it is likely – but not guaranteed – that the product is predominantly whole grain. If there are two grain ingredients and only the second ingredient listed is a whole grain, the product may contain as little as 1% or as much as 49% whole grain (in other words, it could contain a little bit of whole grain, or nearly half).


If there are several grain ingredients, the situation gets more complex. For instance, let’s say a “multi-grain bread” is 30% refined flour and 70% whole grain. But the whole grains are split between several different grains, and each whole grain comprises less than 30% of the total.

The ingredients might read “Enriched white flour, whole wheat, whole oat flour, whole cornmeal and whole millet” and you would NOT be able to tell from the label whether the whole grains make up 70% of the product or 7% of the product. That’s why we created the Whole Grain Stamp program.


Fiber varies from grain to grain, ranging from 3.5% in rice to over 15% in barley and bulgur. What’s more, high-fiber products sometimes contain bran or other added fiber without actually having much if any whole grain.

Both fiber and whole grains have been shown to have health benefits. But they’re not interchangeable. So checking the fiber on a label is not a very reliable way to guess whether a product is truly whole grain.



Oral Cancer Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention


Mouth cancers form when cells on the lips or in the mouth develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. A cell’s DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to do. The mutations changes tell the cells to continue growing and dividing when healthy cells would die. The accumulating abnormal mouth cancer cells can form a tumor. With time they may spread inside the mouth and on to other areas of the head and neck or other parts of the body.

Mouth cancers most commonly begin in the flat, thin cells (squamous cells) that line your lips and the inside of your mouth. Most oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.

It’s not clear what causes the mutations in squamous cells that lead to mouth cancer. But doctors have identified factors that may increase the risk of mouth cancer.


Risk factors

Factors that can increase your risk of mouth cancer include:

·         Tobacco use of any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff, among others

·         Heavy alcohol use

·         Excessive sun exposure to your lips

·         A sexually transmitted virus called human papillomavirus (HPV)

·         A weakened immune system



There’s no proven way to prevent mouth cancer. However, you can reduce your risk of mouth cancer if you:

·         Stop using tobacco or don’t start. If you use tobacco, stop. If you don’t use tobacco, don’t start. Using tobacco, whether smoked or chewed, exposes the cells in your mouth to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals.

·         Drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all. Chronic excessive alcohol use can irritate the cells in your mouth, making them vulnerable to mouth cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.

·         Avoid excessive sun exposure to your lips. Protect the skin on your lips from the sun by staying in the shade when possible. Wear a broad-brimmed hat that effectively shades your entire face, including your mouth. Apply a sunscreen lip product as part of your routine sun protection regimen.

See your dentist regularly. As part of a routine dental exam, ask your dentist to inspect your entire mouth for abnormal areas that may indicate mouth cancer or precancerous



Wine for Your Health: Truth and Myth

Cutting through the Clutter about Heart Health

The following outline formed a webinar that NCADD presented in August 2015 as part of Cigna’s Alcohol and Drug Awareness Series. The presentation focused on the impacts of wine as it relates to cancer and cardiac health, weighing out the benefits and the risks of drinking wine. Concrete suggestions were offered for making better overall health decisions.

Wine and heart health

Studies have shown that moderate consumption of wine may have cardiac benefits.

·         Raises HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)

·         Reduces the formation of blood clots

·         Helps prevent artery damage caused by LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)

·         Produces changes in blood pressure

There are some important limitations to consider:

·         Health benefits do not seem to apply to African Americans and some other racial/ethnic groups

·         No health benefits for people under 40 years of age

·         Drinking pattern is important – cardio-protective effect disappears when light to moderate drinking is mixed with irregular, binge-drinking occasions

·         Heavy drinking can lead to serious cardiac problems, including cardiomyopathy

Resveratrol Claims

·         The key ingredient in wine research is resveratrol, a unique plant nutrient (also known as a phytonutrient)

·         Resveratrol acts as a plant estrogen in the body (much like soy products)

Acts as an antioxidant in the body — reported to have anti-inflammatory properties and improve circulation

Resveratrol Research is now Questioned

·         Conducted on mice & rats

·         Studied at doses 100 to 1000 times more than in a serving of wine.

·         Non-alcoholic red wine appears to have as much resveratrol as its alcohol-containing counterpart

·         Does not have to be in a fermented beverage to act as an antioxidant

·         Some key resveratrol research was shown to be fraudulent

Sources of Resveratrol

·         Grapes

·         Grape Juice

·         Peanut Butter

·         Blueberries

·         Dark Chocolate

·         Cranberries

The wine drinker’s conundrum: what is “moderation?”

Moderation for Health

·         Two drinks or less per day for men – 10 ounces of wine

·         One drink or less per day for women – 5 ounces of wine

The greatest cardiovascular benefit of drinking wine for women appears to occur at:

·         1/3 of a serving of wine (about 1.6 oz) per day

·         Many liver specialists are recommending “days off” from drinking – even at light/moderate levels

Wine: not an “equal opportunity” beverage

·         All alcohol (ethanol) impacts women differently than men

·         Not just a body mass issue

·         Hormone issue

·         Body fat issue

A woman’s increased risk of alcohol-related issues occurs at anything above one drink

Balancing the Risks for Women

·         Alcohol has a strong link to breast cancer and some other cancers

·         There are 20,000 alcohol-related cancer deaths in the US per year

·         60% of alcohol-related cancer deaths for women are breast cancer deaths (about 6,000)*

·         30% of alcohol-related breast cancers occurred in women drinking less than 1.5 servings
per day* **

* Harvard School of Public Health, 2013

** “Saving up” all of your drinks for a special event increases risk

Why the Impact on Women?

·         Ethanol blocks the absorption of folate. Folate is protective against breast cancer.

·         Ethanol is a teratogen, but only in women.

·         Finally, ethanol is a Group A carcinogen – and because women tend to absorb alcohol more slowly, it stays in the body longer.

“Per glass of wine, ethanol is more than 100,000 times more potent than resveratrol”


Wine Consumption Recommendations for Women

  5 oz of wine (or less) per day is considered low-risk if you:

Commercial information about cancer-preventive or cancer-protective effects of resveratrol in wine is misleading and must be prohibited.” [Lachenmeier, 2014, p. 51]

·         Are not pregnant (or do not plan to become pregnant)

·         Don’t have an addiction or a family history of addiction

·         Are at very low risk for cancers of the breast, head/neck, liver, and colorectum

·         Have not had a gastric bypass

·         Do not have any other conflicting health conditions or take any conflicting medications

·         Currently drink alcohol

 Any amount of wine would considered high-risk if you:

·         Are pregnant or of child-bearing age (and sexually active)

·         Have an addiction or are in recovery

·         Have a family history of addiction

·         Have risk factors for – or a family history of – cancers of the breast, head/neck, liver, and colorectum

·         Have a gastric bypass

·         Have other conflicting health conditions or take any conflicting medications

 Wine Consumption & Men’s Health

While men have a greater capacity for alcohol metabolism, there are some special risks:

·         Some effects on male reproductive system, especially at heavier drinking levels

·         “Accumulating” (but not definitive) evidence that alcohol may be risk factor for prostate cancer

·         Risk for cirrhosis of the liver with daily drinking

·         Greater risks for alcohol-related suicide

As with women, drinking is riskier if you:

The best advice from our friends at WHO/Europe and the Association of European Cancer Leagues: “Less is Better”

·         Have an addiction or are in recovery or have a family history of addiction

·         Have risk factors for – or a family history of – cancers of the breast, head/neck, liver, and colorectum

·         Have a gastric bypass

·         Have other conflicting health conditions or take any conflicting medications

All drinking confers some risk For Women & Men – “Less is Better” Recommended daily limits should NOT be interpreted as a “safe” baseline from which to range upward

The key may not be in the wine at all

Research shows that most people who drink in true moderation have other protective health indicators (“confounders”):  

·         More likely to be active regularly

·         More likely to eat a healthier diet

·         More likely to have established social networks

·         More likely to engage in preventive healthcare

Thus, many epidemiologists are beginning to question the unqualified assertion that wine and other alcohol consumption is “heart healthy.” And… of course: If you do not currently drink alcohol, there is no health benefit to starting.

Heart-healthy foods (with and without resveratrol) are your friends

·         grapes

·         peanuts

·         blueberries

·         cranberries

·         mulberries

·         grape juice

·         peanut butter

·         dark chocolate

·         pistachios

·         muscadines

Heart-healthy activities are your friends:

·         healthy weight

·         exercise

·         regular checkups

·         healthy diet