The Health Benefits of Whole Grains
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Whole grains include foods such as wholegrain cereals, wholemeal bread, brown rice and wholewheat pasta.
As the name suggests, wholegrains contain the ‘whole’ grain, including the nutrient-rich germ, the energy-providing endosperm and the fibre-rich bran layer.
When grains are refined, for example to make white flour, rice or bread, the outer bran layer and germ are stripped away, so that the grain loses much of its fibre and many of its nutrients.
By opting for wholegrains – rather than processed products – you get the complete package of fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and complex carbohydrates.
It’s this unique combination of nutrients that’s thought to give wholegrain foods their many health benefits.
In particular, research shows that wholegrains can help to keep the heart healthy.
They also help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and a healthy body weight.
Studies show that people who eat more wholegrain foods have a lower Body Mass Index and are less likely to gain weight over time.
This is possible because they are low in fat but high in fibre and complex carbohydrates, which can help to fill you up.
Whole Grain Nutritional Value
Carbs seem to be having bad press recently, largely because of the detrimental effects of sugars and highly processed carbs.
Wholegrains are 'good' carbohydrates that contribute to health and wellbeing.
Registered dietitians like me recommend three servings of wholegrain foods a day, where one serving is:
- a medium slice of wholemeal bread
- a small wholemeal roll
- 2 cereal biscuits (like Weetabix)
- 3tbsp wholegrain cereal
- 3 heaped tbsp wholewheat pasta
- 2 heaped tbsp boiled brown rice
- ½ wholemeal pitta bread
You can track what you're eating with WLR's online food diary. Try it free for 24 hours.