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
During 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