New Research Highlights Positive Health and Weight Benefits Associated with Eating Grain Foods

Findings from Nutritional Strategies and Grain Foods Foundation published in Food and Nutrition Sciences

July 25, 2016 — Washington, D.C. — Say goodbye to your low-carb diet! A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Nutrition Sciences showcases compelling research findings that reveal the positive health and weight benefits associated with grain foods consumption. For the first time, researchers evaluated the association between various grain food patterns and nutrient intake, as well as health outcomes, in U.S. adults. Results found that people who ate certain grain foods have better overall diet quality, greater intakes of nutrients that are otherwise lacking in American diets and lower average body weight than those who don’t predominantly eat grains.

Researchers looked at grain food consumption and compared nutrient intakes and health metrics against those who don’t regularly eat grains. Grain-based foods, both in whole and enriched forms, contribute vital nutrients — including fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin D and folic acid. These nutrients are shortfalls for many Americans and in this study were found to be lacking even further for those who avoid grains. Therefore, eliminating grain foods (whole or enriched) can have negative effects on diet quality.

“What’s especially unique about this work is it fortifies the importance of variety as well as individualized meal plans,” said study author Yanni Papanikolaou, MPH, vice president, Nutritional Strategies. “We didn’t see benefits from just a single grain-based pattern, we saw positives from a variety of patterns of grain intake, confirming the important benefits of both whole and enriched grains.”

Additionally, researchers found that adults who get most of their grains from pasta, cooked cereals and rice weigh nearly seven pounds less and on average have a one-inch smaller waist circumference than those who don’t regularly eat grains.

Additional findings from the observational research included:

  • People who consumed certain grains had greater intake of fiber, calcium, magnesium and vitamin D than people who consumed no main grain foods.
  • Adults who consumed a grain pattern predominantly consisting of yeast breads and rolls had lower total sugar intake when compared to those adults who eat almost no grains.
  • Adults who consumed a grain pattern largely made up of cereals, pasta/cooked cereals/rice and mixed grains had a better overall diet quality compared to adults who consumed no main grain foods.
  • Adults who consumed a grain pattern largely consisting of cereals, pasta/cooked cereals/rice and mixed grains consumed less saturated fats and sugars than people who consumed no main grain foods.
  • Grains provide vital nutrients for women of childbearing age, specifically iron and folate.

“People can use this information when planning a healthful meal pattern — one that is built on a variety of food groups, including grains,” said Christine Cochran, executive director of the Grain Foods Foundation. “We’re excited to support research that can help the public make better-informed dietary decisions they can be confident are grounded in science.”

The study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005–2010, which consisted of over 14,000 U.S. adults > (greater than or equal to) 19 years old.
For more information about the research findings, and to learn more about grain foods’ role in a healthful diet, please visit
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About Grain Foods Foundation
Formed in 2004, Grain Foods Foundation (GFF) is a group of thought leaders and advocates for ALL grain foods and believes everybody needs grain food to enjoy a happy and healthy life. Committed to nutrition education programming that is firmly rooted in science, GFF is a strong advocate for our members, and a resource for consumers and the media who want to learn more about the role of grains in a well-balanced eating pattern. GFF offers research-based information and resources to members, partners, influencers, policymakers and consumers through a comprehensive communications campaign, conferences, webinars, research tools, social media and more. GFF is committed to bringing fact-based information and common sense to the consumer. For more information, visit

About Nutritional Strategies
Nutritional Strategies is a consulting firm that specializes in helping food and beverage companies develop and communicate, science-based claims about their products and services. Nutritional Strategies also publishes evidence-based nutrition related articles in the peer-reviewed literature every year.