Experts at a symposium during the 2011 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo stressed the importance of including the refined grains on par with the whole grains to avoid missing out on the important health benefits of both.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines, which form the basis for the MyPlate icon unveiled this month, call for Americans to make sure half their daily grain intake is whole grains. Whole grains protect against cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, and are essential for optimal digestive health.
AdvertisementDuring the symposium, Julie Miller Jones, PhD, LN, CNS, professor emeritus at St. Catherine University, said it's also important to add refined grains into a healthy diet because of the benefits added during to some products during the manufacturing process. For example, folic acid was added to cereal, bread and other grains beginning in 1999, and since then there has been a 46 percent decrease in neural tube defects among newborns. She also noted that some nutrients, such as iron and copper, are more difficult to absorb when they are eaten in whole grains instead of refined grains.
Joanne Slavin, PhD, RD, a professor in the department of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota, shared her experiences as part of the group that drafted the guidelines. She said fiber is listed as a "nutrient of concern" because almost all Americans - 95 percent of adults and children -average only 15 grams of fiber per day, far less than the recommended 21-38 grams for most adults and 19-38 grams for children ages 1-18.
She encouraged consumers who choose refined grains to make sure they fall within the healthy guidelines and do not contain solid fats, added sugars or sodium.
"Fiber is a shortfall nutrient, so we need to increase it across the board," Dr. Slavin said. "Grains have a quarter of the plate. We still accept carbohydrates and refined grains and whole grains as part of that picture."
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