Think “enriched” instead of refined
One final word on grains: although grains that don’t qualify as “whole” grain foods are commonly referred to as refined grains, it must be acknowledged that these so-called refined grains are enriched or fortified with vital nutrients such as riboflavin, thiamin, iron, and folic acid. In fact, the CDC recognized folic acid fortification of enriched grains as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the first decade of the 21st century.
Collectively, Americans most certainly would benefit from consuming more whole grain foods. But as long as whole grain intake recommendations are met, research suggests that enriched grain foods also have a place at the table. They provide energy necessary to power the body, and research indicates they have little, if any, negative impact on our weight or waistlines.
Glenn Gaesser, PhD, is a professor in the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, and director of the Healthy Lifestyles Research Center, at Arizona State University.