Gain from grain: Kids nutrient and diet quality show improvement from grain foods

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Of the shortfall nutrients, calcium, vitamin D, fibre, and potassium also are classified as nutrients of public health concern because their under-consumption has been linked in the scientific literature to adverse health outcomes. ©iStock/bhofack
Of the shortfall nutrients, calcium, vitamin D, fibre, and potassium also are classified as nutrients of public health concern because their under-consumption has been linked in the scientific literature to adverse health outcomes. ©iStock/bhofack
An increase in nutrient intake, including those that children are considered deficient in, could be achieved by adding more grain-based foods, a study has concluded.

Findings from a Grain Foods Foundation-supported study recognise the shortfall grain food products appear to make up in satisfying nutrient guidelines set out by the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015–2020 DGA).

In addition, improved diet quality was also linked to consumption of specific grain food patterns.

“Improved diet quality was due not only to the contribution of nutrients inherent in the grain, but also to those added through enrichment and fortification practices and those provided by natural food pairings such as cereal and dairy foods (i.e., milk),”​ the study suggested.

Shortfall nutrients refer to their under-consumption compared to requirement levels set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in the US.

These nutrients include vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, fibre, and potassium.

In Europe, it is the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) advice on nutrient intakes that provides an evidence base to underpin nutritional policies, diet-related public health targets and the development of consumer information and educational programmes on healthy diets.

Study details

pancake_istock
One of the grain groups consisted of pancakes, waffles and French toast and other grains.©iStock

Researchers from St. Catherine University in the U.S began looking at data obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2005 and 2010.

Taking into account the nutrient intake profile of children and adolescent subjects, the team proceeded in dividing the grain-based foods into eight groups.

These groups were: a)no consumption of main grain groups, b) cakes, cookies and pies, c) yeast bread and rolls, d) cereals, e) pasta, cooked cereals and rice, f) crackers and salty snacks, g) pancakes, waffles and French toast and other grains, and h) quick breads.

Findings revealed that Energy Adjusted (EA) dietary fibre intake increased in five of the seven grain groups, varying from 1.8 – 2.8 grams (g) more per day, when compared to subjects who ate no grains.

All grain patterns, with the exception of cakes, cookies and pies had higher EA daily folate compared to those who ate no grains. 

EA magnesium intakes were higher in those who ate ‘yeast bread and rolls’, ‘pasta, cooked cereals and rice’, and ‘quick breads’, while EA iron increased in all grain groups compared to those who consumed no grains.

EA vitamin D intake was found to be higher in children who ate ‘cereals’ when compared to the no grain group.

Additional results revealed that energy intake was higher for all grain groups except ‘cereals,’ when compared to no grains.

Children and adolescents in the ‘yeast bread and rolls’, ‘cereals’, ‘pasta, cooked cereals and rice’, and ‘crackers and salty snacks’ groups exhibited a higher diet quality compared to those who consumed no grains.

‘Creating positive habits’

“Dietary patterns that encourage nutrient-dense grain foods, with the concept of limiting sodium, total fat and sugar, may help shift population consumption in children and adolescents toward recommended intake levels for several shortfall nutrients identified by 2015 DGAC,” ​the study stated.

“Additionally, creating positive habits including nutrient-dense dietary patterns that include whole and enriched grain consumption in earlier years may benefit health outcomes into adulthood.”

The team did recognise limitations of the study including the use of data for energy, nutrient intakes, and diet quality, which relied on study participant memory.

In addition, the observational nature of the study could not establish a causal link between the different grain foods patterns examined and improvements in nutrient intakes and diet quality.

 

Source: Nutrition Journal

Published online ahead of print: DOI: 10.1186/s12937-017-0230-0

“Several grain dietary patterns are associated with better diet quality and improved shortfall nutrient intakes in US children and adolescents: a study focusing on the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”

Authors: Yanni Papanikolaou, Julie Miller Jones and Victor Fulgoni III

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