WASHINGTON — Americans are more likely to consume whole grains for cardiovascular health and weight loss than other health reasons, according to the International Food Information Council’s 17th annual Food & Health Survey released May 18. The online survey involved 1,005 Americans of the ages 18 to 80 contacted between March 23 and April 4 by Greenwald Research

When asked what foods/nutrients they consumed to improve cardiovascular health, whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat bread and oats and lean meats such as chicken, pork and beef tied for the fourth most popular answer at 43%. Vegetables was No. 1 at 55%, followed by fruits at 50% and vitamin or mineral supplements 44%. When asked what they consumed for weight loss management, 42% said whole grains, which trailed vegetables at 64%, fruit at 62%, lean meats at 53%, vitamin or mineral supplements at 47% and fish or shellfish at 44%.

Whole grains tied for sixth in food/nutrients consumed to improve digestive/gut health at 35%, placed seventh in food/nutrients consumed to improve energy/reduce fatigue at 33% and placed seventh in food/nutrients consumed to improve immune function/health.

When asked what nutrients they were trying to consume, 53% said fiber. Protein was the top choice at 59%, followed by vitamin D at 57% and vitamin C at 56%. Calcium tied with fiber at 53%.

Vitamin C was a new addition to the survey this year because IFIC noticed an uptick in interest related to its association with immune health. This year’s survey showed 60% of respondents who said they were seeking immune health benefits from foods, beverages or nutrients were turning to vitamin C. Whole grains was taken out of the question this year as IFIC decided to focus the question on nutrients or food components like probiotics and prebiotics. In years past the question in the survey included food groups like dairy and whole grains.