Dietary Intake of Whole Grains

Dietary Intake of Whole Grains

Linda E. Cleveland, MS, RD, Alanna J. Moshfegh, MS, RD, Ann M. Albertson, MS, RD, Joseph D. Goldman, MA

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Food Surveys Research Group, Beltsville, Maryland (L.E.C., A.J.M., J.D.G.), Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota (A.M.A.) []

Objective: The objective of this study was to provide national estimates of whole-grain intake in the United States, identify major dietary sources of whole grains and compare food and nutrient intakes of whole-grain consumers and nonconsumers.

Methods: Data were collected from 9,323 individuals age 20 years and older in USDA’s 1994-96 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals through in-person interviews on two non-consecutive days using a multiple-pass 24-hour recall method. Foods reported by respondents were quantified in servings as defined by the Food Guide Pyramid using a new database developed by the USDA. Whole-grain and nonwhole-grain servings were determined based on the proportion, by weight, of the grain ingredients in each food that were whole grain and nonwhole grain. Sampling weights were applied to provide national probability estimates adjusted for differential rates of selection and nonresponse. Then, t tests were used to assess statistically significant differences in intakes of nutrients and food groups by whole-grain consumers and nonconsumers.

Results: According to the 1994-96 survey, U.S. adults consumed an average of 6.7 servings of grain products per day; 1.0 serving was whole grain. Thirty-six percent averaged less than one whole-grain serving per day based on two days of intake data, and only eight percent met the recommendation to eat at least three servings per day. Yeast breads and breakfast cereals each provided almost one-third of the whole-grain servings, grain-based snacks provided about one-fifth, and less than one-tenth came from quick breads, pasta, rice, cakes, cookies, pies, pastries and miscellaneous grains. Whole-grain consumers had significantly better nutrient profiles than nonconsumers, including higher intakes of vitamins and minerals as percentages of 1989 Recommended Dietary Allowances and as nutrients per 1000 kilocalories, and lower intakes of total fat, saturated fat and added sugars as percentages of food energy. Consumers were significantly more likely than nonconsumers to meet Pyramid recommendations for the grain, fruit and dairy food groups.

Conclusion: Consumption of whole-grain foods by U.S. adults falls well below the recommended level. A large proportion of the population could benefit from eating more whole grain, and efforts are needed to encourage consumption.

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