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Taking a diet rich in whole grains is advisable because of the potential of lowering the risk of health issues. Americans have increased consumption of whole grains, according to Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University researchers. 

Whole grain consumption in America has been on the rise 

According to the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the increase in whole grains consumption in the last two decades is 39.% or 61.5% based on the definition of whole-grain food. In contrast, Americans’ average whole-grain consumption stayed below recommended consumption of around three ounces per day and varied significantly depending on each definition.

The researchers stated that there is a need to standardize how policymakers, consumers and researchers categorize whole grains. For example, different whole grain definitions were applied to the dietary intakes of more than 39,700 individuals captured by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2018. 

Ph.D. student in the Nutrition Epidemiology and Data Science program at the Friedman School and study author Mengxi Du said that they found that every definition captured different kinds of flour- or grain-containing foods as whole grains. As a result, this contributed to the differences in average whole-grain consumption and related trends. Du added that as a consumer, she has previously struggled to identify what is and is not whole grains through packaging labels. According to recent studies, almost 50% of American consumers experience the same challenges. 

FDA-led definition categorizes the least foods as whole grains 

There are some similarities and differences when considering various whole-grain foods categories based on the definition. Interestingly government-led FDA definition categorized the least foods sight whole grains versus Industry-led Whole Grains Council’s definition, which is lenient and might be the least healthy. 

An interesting finding was how foods of different population subgroups were categorized based on the applied definition. For example, whole grain intake was higher in non-Hispanic whites than in other ethnical/racial groups. However, according to the American Heart Association definition, Hispanic individuals had the highest intake because AHA categorizes corn-based burritos, nachos and tacos as whole grain.