Newswise — NEW ORLEANS – Consumers should divide their daily grain servings between whole and refined varieties to avoid missing out on the important health benefits of both, according to experts at a symposium Tuesday during the 2011 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo®.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines, which form the basis for the MyPlate icon unveiled this month, call for Americans to make sure half their daily grain intake is whole grains. Whole grains protect against cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, and are essential for optimal digestive health.

During the symposium, Julie Miller Jones, PhD, LN, CNS, professor emeritus at St. Catherine University, said it’s also important to add refined grains into a healthy diet because of the benefits added during to some products during the manufacturing process. For example, folic acid was added to cereal, bread and other grains beginning in 1999, and since then there has been a 46 percent decrease in neural tube defects among newborns. She also noted that some nutrients, such as iron and copper, are more difficult to absorb when they are eaten in whole grains instead of refined grains.

Joanne Slavin, PhD, RD, a professor in the department of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota, shared her experiences as part of the group that drafted the guidelines. She said fiber is listed as a “nutrient of concern” because almost all Americans – 95 percent of adults and children –average only 15 grams of fiber per day, far less than the recommended 21-38 grams for most adults and 19-38 grams for children ages 1-18.

She encouraged consumers who choose refined grains to make sure they fall within the healthy guidelines and do not contain solid fats, added sugars or sodium.

“Fiber is a shortfall nutrient, so we need to increase it across the board,” Dr. Slavin said. “Grains have a quarter of the plate. We still accept carbohydrates and refined grains and whole grains as part of that picture.”

For more information about the MyPlate initiative, including customized food plans, visit


About IFT

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a nonprofit scientific society. Our individual members are professionals engaged in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT's mission is to advance the science of food, and our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply, contributing to healthier people everywhere.

For more than 70 years, the IFT has been unlocking the potential of the food science community by creating a dynamic global forum where members from more than 100 countries can share, learn, and grow. We champion the use of sound science across the food value chain through the exchange of knowledge, by providing education, and by furthering the advancement of the profession. IFT has offices in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit

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2011 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo®