The 10:1 Ratio for Choosing Whole Grains

Even whole-grain gurus have a tough time deciphering front of package whole-grain claims.

With 34,000 new whole grain products introduced in 2012 (compared to just 264 in 2001), it has become increasingly difficult to determine just how different “made with whole grain” really is from “100% whole grain”.

Now, from the Harvard School of Public Health comes an easier way to identify a good source of whole grain: the 10:1 ratio.

The 10:1 ratio maintains that for every 10 grams of carbohydrate you eat, aim for at least 1 gram of dietary fiber.

The recommendation comes as part of a recently published paper in the journal Public Health Nutrition. The ratio’s intention is not to select the MOST healthful whole grain, but rather to give a ballpark estimation of what is a relatively good whole-grain choice.

You can, of course, find benchmark foods that surpass the 10:1 ratio.

Take 100% whole wheat bread for example: 1 slice (1 oz, 90-100 calories per slice) has 15 grams carbohydrate and 3 grams fiber, giving it a 5:1 ratio, an even better choice than 10:1.

Here is a quick example of the ratio approach applied for choosing between two General Mills cereals. Ironically, both of these cereals display the same General Mills “Made with Whole Grain” checkmark logo on the front, although you can see through the use of the ratio, that they are remarkably different products:

  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch: 25 grams carbohydrate and 2 grams dietary fiber (12.5:1 ratio – no good)
  • Cheerios (yellow box): 20 grams carbohydrate and 3 grams dietary fiber (6.7:1 ratio – good deal)

Make it your goal to meet or beat the 10:1 ratio next time you are selecting whole-grain foods.