2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans released - recommend grains at all life stages
The new federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans have been released, offering advice on what to eat by life stage, including information on babies from birth to age 2 for the first time since 1985.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) oversee and publish the Dietary Guidelines, the cornerstone of all Federal nutrition policy and nutrition education guidelines. The guidelines shape consumer health decisions and doctor recommendations.
Of importance, the DGAs maintained the existing recommendation for the average healthy American adult to consume six one-ounce servings of grain foods daily, with half of those servings coming from whole grains..
The key takeaways from the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans for the grains-based foods industry:
- Grains, both enriched and whole, play a key role in healthy dietary patterns and diet quality
- Grains are a significant contributor of dietary fiber, a generally under-consumed nutrient for Americans
- Grains contribute to overall diet quality through key essential nutrients
- Grains are a delicious, versatile, affordable, and sustainable plant-based food
- Enrichment and fortification of grains are key contributors to positive public health impacts
- Since folic acid fortification of enriched grain foods became required in 1998, the prevalence of babies born with neural tube defects (NTDs) has decreased by 35% in the U.S., leading the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to name folic acid fortification of enriched grains one of the top 10 public health achievements of the first decade of the 21st century
The Dietary Guidelines now advise the following for infants and toddlers-
1.For about the first 6 months of life, exclusively feed infants human milk. Continue to feed infants human milk through at least the first year of life, and longer if desired. Feed infants iron-fortified infant formula during the first year of life when human milk is unavailable.
2.Provide infants with supplemental vitamin D beginning soon after birth.
3.Begin nutrient-dense foods from all food groups at around 6 months of age, but not before 4 months. Foods should be age and developmentally appropriate.
4.Include foods rich in iron and zinc, such as infant cereal. Two servings of infant cereal a day meets baby's need for iron – a critical nutrient for healthy brain development, learning ability and immune function.
5.Include potentially allergenic foods, such as peanut and egg, in the infant diet when starting solids.
The diets of infants and toddlers have virtually no room for foods with little nutrition and mostly added sugar. In particular, avoid sugar-sweetened beverages like fruity drinks for babies and toddlers.
The second year of life is a unique time when children continue to have high nutrient needs from small amounts of foods. Encourage toddlers to consume a variety of nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein foods (including lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, nuts, and seeds), dairy (including milk, yogurt, and cheese), and oils. Encouraging early acceptance among infants and toddlers of a variety of nutritious foods may help them build healthy habits from the start.
The DGAs included guidance on enriched grains, maintaining the existing recommendation of three one-ounce servings of enriched grains daily. While the guidelines cite science-backed evidence of positive health outcomes from the inclusion of enriched grains, the Grain Chain is extremely concerned to see the DGAs include contradictory language linking "refined grains" with poor dietary patterns and health outcomes.
Published scientific research clearly and unequivocally illustrates the key roles of grains - both enriched and whole - in healthy dietary patterns and their significant contributions to diet quality. To clarify and correct potential consumer confusion resulting from this contradictory language, the members of the Grain Chain look forward to partnering with the USDA and HHS to help educate the public on the value of both enriched and whole grains.