6 Things You Should Know About Wholegrains


Wholegrains are fibre packed nutrient rich and are essential to a healthy diet; they keep the bowel healthy and prevent certain chronic diseases. And yet a recent study shows that 80% of us aren’t eating enough, and worse than that 1 in 5 aren’t eating any at all! There is no excuse as they are in many of our everyday foodstuffs, from wholemeal bread to porridge, and all you need are 3 small servings a day to meet your daily requirement.


WHAT ARE WHOLEGRAINS? Wholegrains are made up of 3 things; the outer layer which is full of fibre and antioxidants, normally known as the “bran” layer, the central starchy bit called the endosperm, then the final part being the germ itself. This is packed with fatty acids nutrients and minerals. Wholegrains are part of the family of carbohydrates and can be found in many different sources such as pasta, bread, quinoa etc.

THEY ARE CARB RICH - IS THAT GOOD? There is a trend in thinking we should be avoiding carbs but this is simply not true. NHS consultant Dr Sally Norton says, “This is not a healthy option for our bodies; starchy refined carbs are the ones we should be avoiding not wholegrains. Wholegrain carbs help us to feel full and provide lots of healthy nutrients and fibre”. So, we need to eat the right sort, not avoid them all.

HOW MUCH SHOULD I BE EATING? There are no strict guidelines in the UK however international guidelines suggest the correct amount is around 48grams per day, so 2 or 3 portions – a portion would be 2 slices wholegrain bread, a bowl of wholegrain cereal, porridge or a portion of wholegrain pasta.

MULTIGRAIN WHOLEMEAL, REFINED GRAINS, IS CONFUSING WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR? When you are looking for wholegrains, the clue is in the name.Look for the word whole - wholewheat , whole oats. “Multigrain” means that the product has been made using several types of grain in it, but not necessarily all are wholegrains. Refined grain is the exact opposite of what we want. It only contains the endosperm, the starchy part.The bran and germ are removed in the milling process, which when removed means  that  you lose 25% of the protein,  75% of the fibre and at least 17 nutrients.

APART FROM THE NUTRIENTS WHY DO WE NEED WHOLEGRAINS A diet full of wholegrains has been shown to have lots of other benefits, including a decrease in chronic diseases like diabetes, some cancers and leads to slow cognitive decline in older age. It is also linked to better weight management. Products made from white refined carbs tend to contain higher proportions of fat and sugar and as they are refined they are not as filling, meaning we tend to eat larger portions. This is why we can feel bloated or sluggish after eating white pasta or rice.

EASY FOOD SWAPS TO INCREASE OUR WHOLEGRAIN INTAKE If you bake at home, switch half the white flour for wholemeal flour; the  result will still be a fluffy texture but you increase the fibre hugely. When you are making soup, throw in half a cup of barley or quinoa. When you make something like meatballs or burgers, add in 3/4 cup of oats for each pound of mince. Or just a spoonful of oats on yoghurt will help.

BlogClaire Edwards