Pg. 3 - 6:
In 1970, the average American consumed about 430 calories a day from grains (wheat, rice, corn, oats, etc.), according to the USDA. By 2008, we were up to 625 calories a day, a huge bump. And roughly 90% of the grain we eat is refined, not whole. Only one other category - fats and oils, which includes butter, oils, margarine and shortening - supplies that many calories. (So much for the popular notion that we've been on a low-fat diet). Added sugars also climbed, though less so. They're up by about 60 calories a day sine 1970.
How does so much refined grain creep into our diets? Restaurants pile on the pasta, rice, pancakes, breads and other cheap carbs.
Many restaurants combine multiple carbs into one meal. That burrito stuffs rice into a tortilla. And that's after you dive into the free basket of tortilla chips or polish off a cheese quesadilla appetizer.
Like many Italian restaurants, Olive Garden offers unlimited bread with your pasta. That often follows an appetizer like bruschetta (on white bread) or artichoke spinach dip (with while bread) or fondue (with white bread). And no one's offering whole grain chocolate cake or tiramisu for dessert.
It's not just restaurant food. We're eating bigger bagels, muffins, doughnuts, scones, ice cream, cones, pretzels, cookies, wraps and slices of bread (most of which are made with white flour). "People see bread labels that say '15 different grains,'" says Kris-Etherton. "They think, 'Wow, this is super.'" They don't notice that each slice has 100-120 calories and a bagel can easily have 300 calories.
"But if you look at a thin slice of bread, which has 70 calories, that's what we used to eat before," notes Kris-Etherton. Now 70-calorie slices are called "small".
"Roughly 30 percent of our calories are coming from SoFAS - solid fats and added sugars," says Kris-Etherton. "We're eating way too many added sugars. But we also have to be mindful of the amount of refind grains we're eating."
"The bran in whole grains is an excellent source of fiber that can help keep you regular," say Lichtenstein. "Most people don't get enough of it."
Refined grains are lower in vitamins (like B6 and E) and minerals (like copper, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and zinc) than whole grains. The potassium may lower blood pressure, and the magnesium may protect against diabetes. Why miss out on those and other nutrients that are stripped away in refined grains?