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Whole Grain Intake: Good and Bad News

Whole Grain Intake: Good and Bad NewsA study published in the October 2010 Journal of the American Dietetic Association has both good and bad news when it comes to whole grain consumption. The study: “Whole-Grain Consumption is Associated with Diet Quality and Nutrient Intake in Adults: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1994-2004” finds that:

  • Americans eat less whole grains than the 3 servings per day the 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommend:
    • 0.63 servings per day for adults aged 19-50 and
    • 0.77 servings per day for adults aged 51+
  • …But, for those who ate the most servings of whole grains, the quality of their diet was:
    • Better when it came to overall calories, fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acids and t
    • They ate less of the bad stuff (added sugars, saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids and cholesterol and most vitamins and minerals)

The study is based on a “new definition” of whole grain that calculates whole grain intake without added bran and pearled barley.

One problem in assessing whole grain intake is the problem that scientists can’t even agree on what a whole grain is. Some groups say a whole grain is a food that contains 51% or more whole-grain ingredient(s) by weight per reference amount customarily consumed; whereas other groups propose that whole grains should be those with 25% or more whole grain or bran content by weight.

The USDA’s (new) Pyramid Servings Database measures whole grain foods – but provides information with and without added bran and pearled barley, which alter measurements depending upon your definition of a whole grain. To complicate matters, assessment instruments used to determine whole grain measurements also differ from study group to study group.

Regardless – the study points out what all nutrition professionals would recommend: a diet rich in whole grains is inherently more healthy than one in refined grains; and, most Americans could stand to eat more whole grains.

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