01 Sep 2017 --- Americans’ consumption of grain foods such as bread, rolls, tortillas and ready-to-eat cereals is surprisingly low, less than 15 percent of all calories in total diets in the US. This is according to a new study funded by the Grain Foods Foundation and published this month in the journal Nutrients. However, the study’s press release suggests that this small quantity of grain foods is providing a disproportionately positive amount of critical nutrients needed to maintain health.
In the study, researchers sought to determine food sources of energy (calories) and nutrients for American adults. They looked closely at what American adults are eating to contribute to the growing issue of shortfall nutrients. Shortfall nutrients are described by the study’s press release as very important nutrients – defined by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee – that, when under-consumed, are said to cause public health concerns.
“These data show that grain foods are the foods we love that love us back - finally, we can enjoy bread again,” says study co-author Yanni Papanikolaou, Vice President at Nutritional Strategies Inc. “The nutrient contribution of all whole and refined grain food products, including breads, rolls and tortillas and ready-to-eat cereals, can play a key role in helping American adults meet recommendations for under-consumed nutrients and nutrients of public health concern.”
Findings suggest bread’s benefits
To conduct the study, more than 10,000 dietary surveys from adults over the age of 19 were collected by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The surveys asked people to recall what they had eaten in the past 24 hours. Data were analyzed for men and women, and they looked at the consumption of all grains and various sub-categories (such as bread, rolls, tortillas, ready-to-eat cereals, cooked grains, quick breads and sweet bakery products).
Researchers also looked at the contribution of these products to vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. The researchers were especially interested in how grains contribute to under-consumed – or shortfall – nutrients. These include fiber, folate, magnesium, calcium and iron.
The findings could be said to make the case that Americans shouldn’t cut bread from their diets. Grain foods provide more of a nutrient boost than a caloric one in adult diets, according to the results. All grain foods were found to contribute less than 15 percent of all calories in the total diet, while delivering greater than 20 percent of three shortfall nutrients – dietary fiber, folate, and iron – and greater than 10 percent of calcium, magnesium and vitamin A.
Grain foods were also found to fill critical nutrient gaps. All grain foods collectively are nutrient-rich and are sources for several shortfall nutrients and nutrients of public health concern, the study’s press release points out. These include dietary fiber, folate, magnesium, calcium and iron.
Explicitly, breads, rolls and tortillas and ready-to-eat cereals were found to be meaningful contributors of dietary fiber, thiamin, folate, iron, zinc and niacin to the American diet of adults.
The study was funded by Grain Foods Foundation, formed in 2004, a group of thought leaders and advocates for all grain foods.
Kids could benefit
Data suggest that grains may also have a good effect on kids. The study press release points out that the current adult data are aligned with results found from data published earlier this year in the same journal, Nutrients, for children and adolescents. Specifically, for kids 2 to 18 years-old, all grain products contributed only 14 percent of calories a day to the diet. Similar analyses found that grain foods were meaningful contributors of nutrient density in the American diet of children and adolescents throughout the various age groups examined.
The data also showed breads, rolls and tortillas and ready-to-eat cereals to be meaningful contributors of several nutrients, including dietary fiber, thiamin, folate, iron, zinc and niacin to children and adolescents.
“We all know that The Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming half of our grains as whole grains,” Papanikolaou adds, “but refined, enriched grains, including breads, rolls, cooked and ready-to-eat cereals also can provide meaningful contributions to the diet of all Americans. So, there is no need to eliminate these from your diet".