Want to stay young? Eat bread, says study

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Study finds that eating bread - and other high grain foods - will help keep you young. Pic: ©GettyImages/bernardbodo
Study finds that eating bread - and other high grain foods - will help keep you young. Pic: ©GettyImages/bernardbodo

Related tags Bread Research Cereals Nutrient Vitamins Health

Researchers recommend that older Americans should not cut bread from their diets as they contain essential nutrients necessary for healthy aging.

A new study published in the journal Nutrients​ has confirmed bread and cereals contain nutrients essential for health and functionality,​ thus are a key factor in successful aging.

However, many of these products have received a bad rap of late and have markedly disappeared from the daily diet.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identified several shortfall nutrients in the diets of Americans over the age of 50 – currently accounting for more than a third of the US population – including vitamins A, D, E, C, folate, calcium, magnesium, fiber, potassium and iron.

Under-consumption of these nutrients has been associated with numerous adverse health outcomes, no less so than successful aging.

Eat your grains

Breads, rolls and tortillas:

  • Provide 150 ± 2.8 kcal/day or 8% of all energy in the total diet: 2nd​ largest contributor of energy compared to 46 food subcategories
  • 1st​ for daily thiamin and niacin
  • 2nd​ for dietary fiber, iron, folate and magnesium
  • 3rd​ for daily calcium

Ready-to-eat cereals:

  • Provide 47 ± 2.6 kcal/day or 2% of all energy in the total diet: 20th​ largest contributor of energy compared to 46 food subcategories
  • 1st​ for daily iron and folate
  • 3rd​ for niacin
  • 5th​ for dietary fiber
  • 8th​ for magnesium
  • 13th​ for calcium

Main group of grains contributed 6.27% total fat, 4.58% saturated fat, 14.13% sodium and 8.9% added sugar.

According to Yanni Papanikolaou, study co-order and vice president of Nutritional Strategies, the nutrient contribution of whole and refined grain food products – including breads, rolls and tortillas and ready-to-eat cereals – are packed with these under-consumed nutrients.

Using data gleaned from over 4,500 dietary surveys from two National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) datasets between 2011 and 2014 for adults over 50 – looking at the consumption of all grains and various sub-categories – researchers examined the contribution of these products to vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

They specifically focused on how grains contribute to under-consumed or ‘shortfall’ nutrients and found that grain foods pack more of a nutrient punch than a fat or caloric foods in older Americans.

According to the study, grain foods contribute less than 5% of total saturated fat and less than 15% all calories, yet make up 14% of all energy in the total diet (ranking the fourth largest contributor of energy compared to 15 main food groups).

The grain foods category also ranked second highest of 15 main food groups for daily dietary fiber, iron, folate and magnesium; the third largest main food group contributor for daily calcium intake; and first for thiamin and niacin intake.

“These data show that grain foods are the foods we love that love us back – finally, we can enjoy bread again,”​ said Papanikolaou.

“In contrast, we should simply be cautious about indulgent bakery items that may contain higher levels of ingredients consumers should limit, including added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.”

The NHANES is a nationally-representative, cross-sectional survey of US non-institutionalized, civilian residents. NHANES data are collected by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Grains contribute shortfall nutrients and nutrient density to older US adults: Data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, 2011-2014

Yanni Papanikolaou, Victor L. Fulgoni III

Nutrients 2018 10(5), 534; doi: 10.3390/nu10050534

Related topics R&D Bread Milling & Grains Health

Related news

Show more

Follow us


View more