The GFF has been working on an array of nutritional research on grains and their role in the diet, some of which has been funded by the American Bakers Association (ABA).
Christine Cochran, executive director of GFF, said for the bakery industry, such research was “imperative”.
“Consumers want to know more about the products they consume, and the industry wants to know more about their own products. Consumers are interested in nutrition and how food can impact their health. Being able to give them answers and connect all those dots is of vital importance to the Grain Foods Foundation’s work,” she told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Grain intake, for example, was associated with better heart health, a lower risk of diabetes and when consumed in appropriate proportions, lower body weight, she said.
However, industry faced plenty of consumer misperceptions around wheat, carbs and bread, with many believing there are negative health implications to consumption.
“From the previous consumer research GFF has completed, we know consumers love bread and grains but wrestle with the misperception created by the low-carb movement that carbohydrates are ‘fattening’. That’s a tension we’re working hard to reconcile,” she said.
Similarly, few consumers truly understood grains, she said. “A core activity for GFF is clearing up this confusion and providing the fundamental nutrition education so many consumers are lacking.”
The devil is in the detail
Cochran said scientific research conducted by GFF had revealed a number of positive health insights on grains. For example, adults who primarily ate yeast breads and rolls had lower sugar intakes compared to adults eating no grains and grain eaters tended to have more optimal nutrient intakes than people avoiding grains.
“That’s information the industry can really use,” she said.
“Independent of the myths about grains we’ve already discussed, I think people inherently know grains are good for them. But, as they say, the devil is in the detail and that’s where I think people get lost; this is where GFF comes in. For example, grains provide essential benefits from conception through the entire lifespan – I find that so compelling. Just think, within the first few weeks after a person is conceived, the folic acid in enriched grains consumed by the mom help shape and form a healthy brain and spinal cord. And the variety of benefits from grains continues throughout the years, from supporting heart health to brain health.”
Baking can fight back
Cochran said it was important industry continued to battle against misperceptions and drive forward research and transparency on ingredients. Combined with increased coordination and educational efforts, she said would create strength in numbers and along with new product development could maintain bread’s strength as a category.
“…As an industry, our work fighting misperceptions is far from done but we are in a position of strength with new and existing data on our side.”