Grain Foods Foundation cautions against simulation to replace grains in dietary guidelines

Grain Foods Foundation cautions against simulation to replace grains in dietary guidelines

USA- The Grain Foods Foundation (GFF) has urged the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) to exercise extreme caution in considering modifications to recommended dietary patterns, particularly the potential replacement of grains with alternative carbohydrates such as starchy vegetables, beans, peas, or lentils. 

Erin Ball, the executive director of GFF, expressed concerns about unintended consequences in a letter dated November 15 to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The DGAC, as part of its preparation for the 2025-2030 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is exploring a simulation involving the replacement of grains with alternative carbohydrates. 

Ball highlighted potential risks, cautioning that such a shift might jeopardize nutrient adequacy, particularly for women of childbearing age and those lactating due to their heightened nutrient needs.

In the letter, Ball raised the issue of cost and shelf stability, emphasizing that these factors should be considered when contemplating the replacement of grain amounts with starchy vegetables. 

The GFF’s response comes following a request for public comment on new and updated draft protocols of the 2025 DGAC, following their third meeting in September.

Ball framed her discussion with several key points about grains, emphasizing their role as key sources of under-consumed nutrients and their importance in helping Americans meet nutrient needs. 

She suggested that the DGAC should classify staple grain foods more discretely to appreciate their contributions to healthy eating.

Highlighting the importance of staple grain foods as affordable, popular, and crucial sources of nutrients, Ball stressed that avoiding these foods could have devastating health consequences. 

Research cited by Ball indicated that individuals following a carbohydrate-restricted diet are 30% more likely to have infants with anencephaly or spina bifida.

The GFF called for DGAC data analysis to distinguish between the roles of whole and refined, enriched grain foods in healthy dietary patterns. Ball cautioned that replacing grains with starchy vegetables and other alternatives could worsen intake shortfalls of folic acid, fiber, and minerals.

The GFF also urged the committee to differentiate between staple and discretionary grains when assessing results and implications of food pattern modeling and systematic evidence reviews. 

This recommendation responded to comments from the DGAC suggesting that consuming more whole grains and fewer refined grains could be associated with reduced risks of chronic conditions.

Finally, the GFF emphasized the benefits of staple grain foods as a popular source of nutrition manageable on tight budgets and accommodating diverse cultural foodways. 

They recommended that the committee consider the potential negative impacts on affordability and shelf-stability when analyzing simulations that involve replacing grain amounts with starchy vegetables.

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