When I remodeled my kitchen three years ago, the pantry was changed so that it now includes a deep drawer at the bottom. When the remodel process was complete and it came time to put everything back, I decided to create a drawer for my myriad of grains.
This is how it turned out. How do you like my hand-lettered labels?
Yes, there is some tea in there, too!
As you can see, some of my grains are whole grains such as the bulgur, wild rice and wheat berries. Yet others are processed grains such as the Arborio rice I use to make risotto, white rice and the various noodles you see.
Yes, I am a grain nut!
Not only are grains generally quick cooking, they also add flavor, texture and nutrients to menu items.
The current advice from the United States Department of Agriculture suggests we make half of our grains whole.
For those of us who eat plenty of processed grains along with their whole grains, there was good news in the nutrition research world last Friday. According to a meta-analysis (a statistical procedure for combining data from multiple studies) published in a peer-reviAccording to a meta-analysis (a statistical procedure for combining data from multiple studies) published in a peer-reviewed journal, refined grain consumption is not associated with any of the chronic diseases to which it’s usually… Click To Tweetewed journal, refined grain consumption is not associated with any of the chronic diseases to which it’s usually attributed. Whoa!
Here’s what the Wheat Foods Council had to say about it:
An important article has just been published in a highly impactful nutrition journal, Advances in Nutrition. The study, Perspective: Refined Grains and Health: Genuine Risk, or Guilt by Association? shows that current U.S. dietary guidelines on refined grains are misguided. The article was developed by Dr. Glenn Gaesser, Director of the Healthy Lifestyles Research Center, at Arizona State University.
Key findings and recommendations include:
- Results from 11 meta-analyses, that include a total of 32 separate publications with data from 24 distinct populations, demonstrate that refined grains are not associated with increased risk of several major chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Total grain consumption, both refined and whole grains, is associated with lower risk of death and not associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke or cancer.
- The bad rap against refined grains is a result of “guilt by association” (i.e., being included in the western dietary pattern).
- Elimination of refined grains from the diet may result in inadequate intake of some key “shortfall” nutrients that are added in refined grains as a result of enrichment and fortification.
- Grains provides more than one-half of daily fiber intake of Americans, and refined grains supply roughly 70% of fiber intake from grains. So reducing refined (enriched) grain intake could have unintended consequences.
- Future research and recommendations should make clear distinctions between ”staple” and “indulgent” grain foods. Staple grain foods are bread, cereals, pasta while indulgent grains include cakes, cookies and items with a lower fiber content and overall nutrient density.
Time will tell if the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans committee will consider this scientific research regarding both whole grain and enriched grains. I hope they do!
Here is the link to the study if you want to actually read it.
As you can see, I regularly enjoy eating foods I grew up on using processed grains, including crusty Italian bread and pizza crust made with white flour, and Greek avgolemono (egg lemon) soup made with white rice. The new research suggests staple foods made with processed grains have a place in a healthful diet.
Disclosure: In January I attended an educational session sponsored by the Grain Foods Foundation. I was not compensated for writing this post.