On July 8, the American Bakers Association (ABA) appeared before the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to review the important health benefits of grain foods including whole and enriched grains. The following excerpts are from the statement presented by Robb MacKie, ABA C.E.O. and president. A full version can be found at www.americanbakers.org.
Since 1941, grains have been enriched with iron and B vitamins including riboflavin, niacin and thiamine …because they were economical foods that served as the base of Americans' diets. Today, enriched grain products continue to be a good source of iron and B vitamins (thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid), as well as complex carbohydrates. Not only do enriched grain products provide families with an important source of nutrients, they can also protect against many chronic conditions. For example, people who consume a medium-to-high percentage of carbohydrates have a reduced risk of obesity, according to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, July 2009.
Grain foods also are a major source of iron, a key nutrient in the production and release of energy to the body. … Furthermore, enriched grains are the primary source of folic acid in Americans' diets. … In March 1996, the Food and Drug Administration mandated that enriched cereal — grain products be fortified with 140 micrograms of folic acid per 100 grams of flour. In 1998, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that women in childbearing years should consume 400 micrograms of synthetic folic acid daily to reduce the risk for neural tube defects (NTDs). … In the U.S. and Canada, where fortification is mandated, folic acid has lowered stroke mortality, according to the Wheat Foods Council.
A greater whole grain intake is associated with decreased levels of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, which are all factors that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, consuming 2.5 servings of whole grains daily can reportedly decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by 21 percent. Whole grains also are naturally low in fat and are a good source of fiber.
The health benefits of grain foods — both whole and enriched — are even more important given that approximately 25 percent of the daily caloric intake in the United States is from cereal-grain products. Grain foods greatly enhance the general health of the entire population, with their popularity touching all regions and demographic groups.
Bakers are continually striving to meet consumers' preferences and desires for new, innovative healthy products. Since the last review of the Dietary Guidelines in 2005, a variety of new bakery and snack products with “healthier for you” profiles have been formulated and introduced.
More than 1,300 new whole grain products have entered the marketplace, and 1,000 gluten-free products have been introduced, along with over 1,100 other low/no/reduced-allergen products to assist individuals with celiac disease and other wheat allergies, per Mintel's Global New Products Database.
Some breads are being fortified with omega-3s, which have been linked to heart health claims, as well as calcium-fortified bread that is beneficial for bone health.
On the cutting edge of development for bakers is consideration of a yeast that as part of its fermentation process has a by-product of vitamin D, an area where there is widespread deficiency. …
The examples listed above demonstrate the diligent innovative efforts of the baking industry to provide a variety of new, healthful, wholesome products into the marketplace.
In conclusion, the ABA strongly urges the committee to maintain in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans the current recommendation that Americans eat six servings of grains foods daily — at least three servings of whole grains and the remaining servings from enriched grains. The complex carbohydrates in grain foods provide essential fuel the body needs. Grain foods are well liked by adults and children and provide an excellent way for Americans to obtain good nutrition. In fact, grain foods are the leading source of seven of the essential nutrients.
The U.S. baking industry looks forward to continuing to work with the committee to achieve a final set of dietary guidelines for Americans that are science-based, consistent with advice from other federal agencies and are communicated in terms easily understood — and actionable — by the public.