The Whole Truth on Whole Grains

Superfoods have taken Australia by storm over the last few years, but who said you needed to be new and trendy to be super? Whole grains have been a staple in western diets for centuries and they’ve always been good for us.

What are whole grains?

There’s a lot more to them than meets the eye.

A grain consists of three parts- the bran, the germ and the endosperm. A grain is considered a whole grain if it contains all three of these original parts, in the same proportion as when it was harvested.

Great, let’s keep whole grains whole and let them live as one big happy family! If only that were the truth…

A process called refinement exists, where the whole grain is stripped of the bran and the germ, leaving the endosperm to fend for itself. During this process, about ¼ of protein and ⅔ of the nutrients in the grain are lost. Culprits of refinement include white rice and white flour.

However, it’s not all bad. Refinement is most often followed by enrichment, which puts nutrients back into products. This does compensate for losses, but the nutritional value still doesn’t compare.

Why are whole grains so damn good?

Foods with whole grains are typically low in saturated fats, cholesterol-free, high in fibre and protein, a great source of carbohydrates and good fats as well as an excellent source for many vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. They sound pretty incredible right? Whole grains really are the gift that keeps on giving. They also help to protect our bodies against harmful diseases.

Eating whole grain foods can significantly lower your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. We know high levels of cholesterol can often contribute to heart disease. The soluble fibre found in whole grain foods works to lower cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, consequently lowering the risk of heart disease.

Whole grains can even help to fend off the big C word… Cancer!
Consumption of foods high in dietary fibre reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. With just three servings of whole grains per day, you can lower your risk by 20 per cent!

Whole grains for weight loss

High-fibre foods are the perfect companion for weight loss. Not only do they provide fewer calories per gram of food, but you also feel fuller for longer.

How much is enough?

Just 4-6 servings per day!

How do I get my hands on it?

Below is a list of whole grain foods, as well as tips on how you can incorporate more servings into your diet.

  • Whole wheat bread, pasta or crackers
  • Brown & wild rice
  • Popcorn
  • Barley, buckwheat, millet & oats

Tips

  • Eat whole grain cereals or porridge for breakfast
  • Try adding oats to your smoothies
  • Use grainy, seedy breads for sandwiches or whole wheat tortillas for wraps
  • Add wild rice or barley to salads and soups
  • Accompany meats or poultry with a serving of brown rice

Next time you leave the gym feeling famished, grab yourself a snack rich in wholegrains!