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May 13, 2010 | 2 minute read

Are Oats Really Heart Healthy?

According to a new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the health claims on food labels may not tell the whole story.

The Food and Drug Administration currently establishes what health claims can appear on food labels.  The IOM* says the FDA should have more rigorous evaluation of  claims that we see whenever we shop for food.

That includes, for example, claims on breakfast or high protein bars that connect soy protein to lower risk of heart disease.  They make this claim because soy protein has been shown to lower cholesterol levels.

But, the IOM says that by just measuring cholesterol levels and not looking at whether it actually prevents heart disease is misleading to consumers.

According to the IOM, the FDA should “apply the same rigor to evaluating the science behind claims of foods’ and nutritional supplements’ health benefits as it devotes to assessing medication and medical technology approvals.”

The FDA will need more authority from Congress and more resources to do this.

What do you think – would more rigorous evaluation make you take those label claims more seriously?  Do you purchase foods now because they make those claims?

*The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public. The Institute of Medicine serves as adviser to the nation to improve health.

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