Whole grains account for nearly 20% of older adults’ total grain intake. That amount has risen in recent years, but it falls short of the 50% recommended, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Recently released survey data revealed that from 2005–2006 to 2015–2016, men and women of all ages added a greater percentage of whole grains to the total grains in their diet, with older adults adding the most. Higher family income was also found to be tied to greater whole grain intake. Meanwhile, men appear to consume a bit less (14.8%) than women (16.7%).

Whole grains promote good health, and increased consumption is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and mortality. The term whole grain refers to use of the entire grain kernel found in foods such as whole-wheat flour, bulgur (cracked wheat), oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice. Grains that aren’t whole have been refined, a process that removes the bran and germ. This removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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