WASHINGTON — In a formal statement following the release of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report, the Grain Foods Foundation took issue with the term “refined grains” and questioned whether reduced intake of enriched grains was sound guidance.
Excerpts from the statement follow: “The Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 includes a recommendation to reduce the amount of refined grains in the American diet, while increasing consumption of whole grains. (The term ‘refined’ is a misnomer as 95% of the refined grains are sold in America as ‘enriched.’ They are enriched with the three major B vitamins and iron and fortified with folic acid). Enriched grains were targeted as one of the ‘over-consumed’ foods while whole grains are under-consumed.
The net balance of the recommendations (making half of grain foods choices whole grains) remains the same from the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. The report also recommends that those eating only whole grains should include some enriched grains for the folic acid.
While it is critical for consumers to increase their intake of whole grains, consumption of enriched grains in moderation also provides important health benefits. These grains are the primary source of folic acid in Americans’ diets and folic acid is critical in the prevention of neural tube defects. In fact, since the Food & Drug Administration mandated that enriched flour be fortified with folic acid in 1998, the incidence of neural tube defects has declined by 34% in white, non-Hispanics and by 36% among Hispanic women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.). Given that folic acid remains a nutrient of concern for women of reproductive age, reducing consumption of enriched grains for this group is contraindicated.
It is essential for Americans to have a balanced approach when selecting grain foods. Including both whole and enriched grains is the key to achieving a nutritionally adequate diet, one that supports disease prevention and optimizes overall health.”