Imagine your favorite wheat food – a pasta dish, a loaf of warm bread, or a pizza crust. However you choose to eat your wheat, the latest nutritional guidelines and expertise want you to make every bite count by adding a mix of whole foods and refined grains to your diet.
Photo by Shauna Rumbaugh.
“Whole or refined wheat foods are part of a happy and healthy life,” said Cindy Falk, wheat nutritionist in Kansas. “Both types of wheat foods give your body high quality energy by providing essential nutrients like fiber, vitamin A and iron.”
Whole grains, which contain the whole seed of the plant, have been shown to be beneficial for weight management, reducing heart disease, and preventing type II diabetes. Fortified or refined flour starts with the flour made from just the endosperm, one of three different parts of the seed that contain protein. Some nutrients that are lost during grinding are added back to the flour in addition to fortifying the flour with additional nutrients such as iron and folic acid.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommend that whole grains make up at least half of total grain consumption, while refined grains make up the other half. The guide also supports the consumption of fortified grains, especially those fortified with folic acid. The guidelines were developed by the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Health. Learn more at dietguidelines.gov.
The Grains Foods Foundation has outlined the research showing how important this blend of whole grains and refined grains is to a healthy lifestyle. GFF is a joint venture of the baking, milling and allied trading industries dedicated to nutritional education that is firmly anchored in science.
The published consensus statement detailed the scientific studies that link higher whole grain intake to diet and other health benefits. GFF also outlined the results of a group of nutritionists who discussed the contributions of whole grains and refined grains to nutrition. The panel concluded that grain feed adds nutrient density to the diet, which means an increased amount of beneficial nutrients in a food product.
The panel explained how fortification and fortification can help provide essential nutrients for the diet. For example, fortified grains are the main source of folic acid in women of childbearing age and have helped reduce neural tube defects by 36 percent. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control named folic acid fortification as one of the top ten public health achievements of the past decade. The flour fortification initiative is even working around the world to promote the fortification of cereals with iron and folic acid.
While the panel found that Americans should limit their consumption of indulgent refined grains based on calories, added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat, the experts said there is inconclusive evidence that refined grains are associated with overweight and obesity related. In fact, they found that removing refined grains from the diet worsened nutritional deficiencies in both children and adults.
Whether you eat cereal, bread, rolls, or tortillas, make sure you include a mix of whole wheat and refined or fortified foods to keep you healthy and happy.