As expected, the recently released 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) stressed the importance of consuming a diet rich in whole grain foods. This government-approved eating plan recommends consuming three or more ounce-equivalents of whole grain products per day.
The DGA represent the federal government’s science-based advice to promote health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases through nutrition and physical activity. These guidelines will be used to create the Food Guidance System, currently called the Food Guide Pyramid, scheduled to be released in spring 2005.
The final version of the DGA came as a welcome surprise to many in the baking industry after initial versions of the guidelines lessened the importance of refined grains in the diet. In the final version of the DGA, whole grains are strongly endorsed, but refined grains also are promoted for their folic acid contents. This endorsement of all types of grain-based foods left many in the baking industry with smiling faces.
“This new announcement repudiates the fad low-carb misinformation from the past and reinforced the importance of grain-based foods, including bread, in the diet,” Paul Abenante, American Bakers Association’s president and chief executive officer, said.
Robin Alton, Independent Bakers Association’s chairman, echoed these comments. “The association is pleased that many of our initial concerns about refined grains were dropped from the final draft.”
The Grain Foods Foundation also applauded the DGA for emphasizing both whole grains and enriched grains. “We should not overlook the importance of enriched grains—because of their increased folic acid content—in helping to prevent birth defects and ensuring cardiovascular and overall health,” Judi Adams, Grain Foods Foundation’s president, said.
The DGA reinforced the importance of whole grain products in today’s marketplace. This once niche category of bakery foods has become mainstream, and commercial bakeries of all sizes are launching new products made with whole grain flour.
According to the DGA, which tags whole grains as a food group to encourage, the consumption of whole grains can reduce the risk of several chronic diseases and may help with weight loss. Whole grains also are chock full of many nutrients, such as dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, lignans, phytoestrogens phenolic compounds and phytic acid.
Besides encouraging whole grain consumption, the DGA included guidelines on how to identify whole grain products. “Whole grains cannot be identified by the color of the food; label-reading skills are needed,” the DGA say. “For many whole grain products, the words ‘whole’ or ‘whole grain’ will appear before the grain ingredient’s name. The whole grain should be the first ingredient listed.”
Products labeled with a whole grain health claim must contain 51% or more whole grain ingredients by weight per reference amount, and be low in fat.
The role of fats in the American diet also was addressed in the DGA. As expected, the guidelines took a hard stance against trans-fatty acids, saying that consumers need to decrease their intakes of trans fats and saturated fats. According to the DGA, cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, bread and other bakery foods contribute 40% of the total trans fat consumed by Americans.