Previous data demonstrate grain foods contribute shortfall nutrients to the diet of U.S. adults. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have identified several shortfall nutrients in the U.S. population, including fiber, folate, and iron (women only). Intake of some shortfall nutrients can be even lower in older adults. The present analyses determined the contribution of grain foods for energy and nutrients in older U.S. adults and ranked to all other food sources in the American diet. Analyses of grain food sources were conducted using a 24-hour recall in adults (≥51 years old; n
= 4522) using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011–2014. All grains provided 278 kcal/day or 14% of all energy in the total diet, ranking as the 4th largest contributor of energy compared to 15 main food groups. All grain foods ranked 1st for thiamin (33%) and niacin (23%) intake relative to 15 main food groups. The grain foods category ranked 2nd highest of 15 main food groups for daily dietary fiber (23%), iron (38%), folate (40%), and magnesium (15%) and was the 3rd largest food group contributor for daily calcium intake (13%). When considering nutrients to limit as outlined by dietary guidance, main group of grains contributed 6% total fat, 5% saturated fat, 14% sodium and 9% added sugar. Breads, rolls and tortillas provided 150 kcal/day or 8% of all energy in the total diet, ranking as the 2nd largest contributor of energy compared to 46 food subcategories. Breads, rolls and tortillas ranked 1st of 46 foods for daily thiamin (16%) and niacin (10%) intake and 2nd for dietary fiber (12%), iron (12%), folate (13%), and magnesium (7%). Breads, rolls and tortillas ranked 3rd largest food group contributor for daily calcium (5%) intake. Ready-to-eat cereals provided 47 kcal/day or 2% of all energy in the total diet, ranking as the 20th largest contributor of energy compared to 46 food subcategories. All ready-to-eat cereals ranked 1st for daily iron (19%), 1st for folate (21%), 5th for dietary fiber (7%), 3rd for niacin (9%), 8th for magnesium (4%), and 13th for calcium (2%) intake. Given all grain foods and specific subcategories of grain foods provided a greater percentage of several underconsumed nutrients than calories (including dietary fiber, iron, and folate), grain foods provide nutrient density in the American diet of the older adult.
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