The World's Healthiest Foods

Do you agree with the Food Pyramid emphasis on grains?

The Food Guide Pyramid, developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends a total of 6-11 servings of grains (the food group containing bread, cereal, rice and pasta group) each day. The Food Pyramid does not mandate exactly what type of grains should be eaten, which gives the eater many options as he or she attempts to meet the recommendations. However, the recommendations do suggest choosing several servings a day made from whole grains to ensure adequate intake of fiber and choosing grain products with little added fat or sugar.

The grain group sits at the base of the Food Pyramid, suggesting that the bulk of the diet should be comprised of grain products. Is this emphasis on grains healthy? Is this recommendation based on solid research? Whole grains - unlike processed grains - provide many essential nutrients, including fiber, vitamin E, and the B vitamins. Whole grains therefore make an important contribution to the overall quality of the diet. In sharp contrast, however, processed and refined grains are stripped of many important nutrients, and, in some cases, provide calories, simple carbohydrates, and little else. When formulating these recommendations, the USDA evaluated a large amount of scientific evidence related to the health benefits of grains. But, the USDA also looked at food consumption patterns of people in the United States, and found that most people eat a large amount of grains already, so it would be possible for them to meet these dietary recommendations without having to make major changes in their current dietary habits. The bottom line? If you are allergic to any grains and repeatedly eat them, you may be significantly compromising your health. Eating large amounts of grains may also be unhealthy for you if you choose processed and refined grain products (instead of 100% whole grains) or if you eat grains in place of other important food groups, most notably fruits and vegetables. Whole grains (for example, brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, and millet) can be a healthy and delicious part of your diet, but even in this case, you need to supplement your whole grains with ample amounts of leafy vegetables, root vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and, of course, water!

This page was updated on: 2002-04-30 20:43:39
© 2002 The George Mateljan Foundation