WASHINGTON — The recently published 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend Americans consume half of their grains from whole grain sources and the remainder from enriched grains. The Dietary Guidelines recognize whole grains are “one of the three food groups that are fundamental constituents of a healthy dietary pattern.”
The Dietary Guidelines also maintain the existing recommendation for the average healthy American adult to consume six 1-oz servings of grain foods daily, with half of those servings coming from whole grains, and for the first time, the Dietary Guidelines include recommendations for birth to 2 years.
In making its recommendations for infants up to the age of two, the Dietary Guidelines had this to say about grains: “Grains, including iron-fortified infant cereal, play an important role in meeting nutrient needs during this life stage. Infant cereals fortified with iron include oat, barley, multigrain, and rice cereals. Rice cereal fortified with iron is a good source of nutrients for infants, but rice cereal shouldn’t be the only type of cereal given to infants. Offering young children whole grains more often than refined grains will increase dietary fiber as well as potassium intake during the second year of life and help young children establish healthy dietary practices.”
Published by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Health and Human Services (HHS), the Dietary Guidelines are essential to federal nutrition policy and nutrition education guidelines and shape consumer health decisions and doctor recommendations.
The Grain Chain, a farm to fork coalition of stakeholders in the grain industry sector and chaired by the American Bakers Association (ABA), applauded the recommendations and said it is looking forward to partnering with the USDA and the HHS to help educate the public on the value of both enriched and whole grains.
“The American Bakers Association is very appreciative of the thorough work of the DGAC as well as USDA staff in the culmination of their efforts, published today,” said Lee Sanders, senior vice president of government relations and public affairs at the ABA. “ABA has been pleased to lead and work with the Grain Chain throughout the 2020-2025 process, and we strongly agree on the goodness of six grain servings, half enriched grains and half whole grains, on Americans’ daily plates.”
Christine Cochran, executive director of the Grain Foods Foundation, added, “The guidelines are an essential map for consumers, policy-makers and feeding program implementers to use as they feed themselves, their families and the most vulnerable in our country. The unity of the Grain Chain’s message and the importance of its being heard have been affirmed in this DGA cycle today: the nutritional contribution of grains is essential in the diet at all stages of life.”
Other members of the Grain Chain weighing in on the release of the new Dietary Guidelines included the USA Rice Federation, the Wheat Foods Council (WFC) and the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA).
Elizabeth C. Ward, president and chief executive officer of the USA Rice Federation, said the association was pleased with the overall recommendation that the nutritional benefit of grain consumption is vital at all stages of life, while Tim O’Connor, president of the WFC, singled out the value of regular grains consumption as a key source of nutrients, including B vitamins, folate, iron and fiber.
Meanwhile, Jane DeMarchi, president of NAMA, said the association was “delighted” that the nutritional value of both whole and enriched grains in the diet is acknowledged by the updated Dietary Guidelines.
“Grain foods are staples that create the foundation for a healthy and balanced diet,” Ms. DeMarchi said. “They are affordable, versatile, convenient, and easy to store. The significance of these qualities cannot be overstated in normal times, much less during a global pandemic where families are stressed, and food dollars are stretched.”