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Refined Grains Consumption

U.S. households are still buying too many refined grains.

Person holding packaged bread with refined grains

Despite increased awareness about the health benefits of choosing whole grains over refined grains, few people are buying enough of the whole package.

Using information gleaned from the Nielsen Homescan 2018 data, investigators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill looked at packaged food products like breads, cereals and crackers purchased by U.S. households. Specifically, they set forth to determine the percentage of containing whole grain and refined grain ingredients—such as whole wheat flour or unbleached wheat flour.

As reported in The Journal of Nutrition, they found that the proportion of packaged food purchases containing refined grain ingredients was alarmingly much higher than whole grain ingredients (31% versus 8%). Across all demographics, 90% or more of bread purchased was made with refined grains such as white flour.

Lower-income households and those with children were found to have purchased the highest proportion of products containing refined grain ingredients. Clearly, many people need to be better educated on how to select whole-grain packaged foods and why this is an important transition to make for health outcomes.

See also: Whole Grains for Longer Life



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Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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