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Grain's New Claim To Fame

Labels on cereal boxes, bread bags and any other products made of grain currently promise calcium, low fat, and an excellent source of folic acid. Soon, they'll have a new claim to look out for -- some of these foods can reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. CBS News Correspondent Bobbi Harley reports.

Cereal maker General Mills asked the government to allow Cheerios, Total, Wheaties and other qualifying foods to advertise on the food's package, that eating a diet high in whole-grain foods -- that also is low in fat -- may cut the risk of getting these illnesses.

Foods rich in dietary fiber already can make certain disease-fighting health claims. But General Mills cited a 1989 conclusion by the National Academy of Sciences that whole grains mix other important nutrients with fiber to be disease-fighting, too.

The Food and Drug Administration accepted that conclusion, so beginning Thursday General Mills and any other maker of a whole grain-rich food can start advertising the benefit.

The new label should clear up some misconceptions. The FDA has only approved the label for foods that are low in fat and at least 51 percent whole grain by weight -- something we all should get three servings of each day.

Right now, less than 10 percent of all Americans even eat what is recommended when it comes to whole grains. Some health experts say that's because there is so much confusion.

"Many people think breads are whole grain if they say wheat or cracked wheat or multi-grain or seven grain or oat bran, all of those sound like bread is whole grain but they are usually white flour with a little bit of whole grain if that," says Bonnie Liebman, Nutrition Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Consumers should look at the ingredients. If it's truly whole grain, it should say so at the top of the list. With the new FDA approval, it can claim so on the front of the box as well.

However, the promise remains a hard sell for some people.

"If I don't like the cereal it's not going to matter what they put on the box, but if it's a good cereal and I see that it says that, yeah sure, I'll think about it," says shopper Keller Northam.

But at least it's a promise that delivers.

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