“Grains serve as the cornerstone of a healthful, plant-based diet.”Grain Chain via Recommendations Submitted on January 22, 2020 to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
The Grain Chain – led by the American Bakers Association – provided compelling, science-backed recommendations for the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to consider as they develop the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
An Additional Whole Grain Serving
In addition to supporting the existing 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans for carbohydrate intake and grains servings, the Grain Chain recommends adding a whole grain serving to bolster educational information and messaging for consumers around the nutritional benefits of higher whole grain consumption.
The comments briefly recapped the health benefits of grain foods, including:
- Meta-analyses on the health benefits of whole grains are numerous and consistently positive. They show inverse relationships between whole-grain consumption and risk of major chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, in addition to a lower risk of dying prematurely from any cause.
- Total grain consumption, both refined (enriched) and whole grains is associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality and incidence of type 2 diabetes, and not associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke or cancer.
- Since folic acid fortification became required in 1998, the prevalence of babies born with neural tube defects (NTDs) has decreased by 35% in the U.S., leading the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to name folic acid fortification one of the top 10 public health achievements of the first decade of the 21st century.
In their previous comments submitted to the DGAC, The Grain Chain also “noted that Americans continue to under consume whole grains, so we would support increasing whole grain serving recommendations while maintaining at least three servings daily of enriched grains. The body of scientific evidence, as referenced above, continues to support grain consumption because of its substantial nutritional contributions and its positive impact on health outcomes.”
Benefits of Grain Consumption at All Life Stages
Groundbreaking and Foundational Recommendations for Infants Birth to 24 months
This will be the first time that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) will develop nutrition recommendations for infants birth to 24 months (B-24 age group). The Advisory Committee will review existing scientific research and the weight of the evidence for each study. This will be groundbreaking as the foundational recommendations will be established.
The Grain Chain provided the DGAC with newly-published data examining grain food consumption in American infants and toddlers aged six to 23 months, based on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2001-2016. This study is the first infant-centered research to examine grain consumption and associations to nutrient intakes, diet quality, and food group intakes.
The study concludes that eliminating or reducing grain foods in the diets of American infants and toddlers 6-23 months old may have unintended nutrient/food group and diet quality consequences.
- Grain food consumers have higher daily intakes of protein and dietary fiber – 60% and 67% more, respectively – while having a higher daily caloric intake versus nonconsumers.
- Grain food consumers have higher daily calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc intake than non-consumers. Further, infant grain consumers have higher daily folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, choline, B12, and B6 intakes.
- Consumers of all grain foods, cooked grains, breads/rolls/tortillas, ready-to-eat cereals, cooked cereals, yeast breads, breads, and tortillas/rolls all have better diet qualities, as measured by USDA’s Healthy Eating Index (2015), versus non-consumers in each of these grain categories.
- Consumers of all grain food categories (except crackers) have higher total fruit intake versus non-consumers. Further, infants consuming all grain foods and cooked cereals consume higher amounts of total vegetables versus non-consumers.
- Consumers of bread, rolls, and tortillas consume about 54% more whole grains versus non-consumers of bread, rolls, and tortillas.
Published in July 2019 in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, recent analysis from the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) provides valuable insight into the potential impact of federal nutrition policy on consumer behavior – in this case involving children and school meals.
The study concluded that from 1994 to 2014, the number of students consuming whole grain increased from one in four to one in two students. This analysis shows that federal policy can and does affect consumer behavior. Thus, as Americans continue to under consume whole grains, the recommendation of an additional whole grain serving, while maintaining the current recommendation of three servings of enriched grains, could provide new momentum to whole grain consumption in the US.
A Deeper Dive
The organizations comprising the Grain Chain, a grains industry coalition from farm to table, appreciate the opportunity to provide additional comments to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) as it continues developing the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). This document supports and adds to our comments filed in July 2019, providing new published research for the Committee’s consideration.
-About the Grain Chain-
ABA leads the Grain Chain whose members include: American Bakers Association, American Institute of Baking, Grain Foods Foundation, Independent Bakers Association, National Pasta Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, North American Millers Association, Retail Bakers of America, Wheat Foods Council, and USA Rice Federation.
In July 2019, the Grain Chain testified on health benefits of increased grain servings. Read the press release here.
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