Although the structures of the various cereal grains are different, there are some common features they all share:
The term ‘whole grain’ is used to describe an intact grain, flour or a food that contains all three parts of the grain. Together they deliver over 26 nutrients and other active substances which nourish the body and help to reduce risk of disease. Processing grains does not necessarily produce ‘refined grains’ or exclude them from the Australian definition of a ‘whole grain’.
“The intact grain or the dehulled, ground, milled, cracked or flaked grain where the constituents – endosperm, germ and bran – are present in such proportions that represent the typical ratio of those fractions occurring in the whole cereal, and includes wholemeal.” (Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code)
Why eat whole grain?
Whole grains tick all of the boxes of good quality carbohydrate foods. They are:
In addition, enjoying a variety of whole grain foods can help to lower the overall glycemic index (GI) of your diet. Examples of foods made with whole grain or wholemeal ingredients include wholemeal and mixed grain breads, rolls, wraps, flat breads and English muffins, whole grain breakfast cereals, wheat or oat flake breakfast biscuits, whole grain crispbreads, rolled oats, wholemeal pasta, brown rice, popcorn, bulgar (cracked wheat) and rice cakes.
The health benefits of whole grains
With an impressive nutrition profile it is no wonder whole grains and whole grain foods are recommended as part of healthy diets around the world. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend we eat a variety of grain foods each day choosing mostly whole grain and/or high fibre varieties.
This emphasis on whole grain and high fibre grain foods is based on the scientific evidence that people who eat grain foods, particularly whole grains are 20-30% less likely to:
Whole grain Foods
Intact, cracked or kibbled (chopped) whole grains can be cooked and enjoyed as a side dish, in salads, casseroles or as porridge. Being so versatile in the kitchen whole grains have been traditionally enjoyed by cultures around the world.
In addition, for thousands of years whole grains have been ground into flours (milled) to make breads and other nutritious grain foods. Today whole grain foods are made from milled whole grains as well as intact, cracked, flaked or puffed grains include whole grain or wholemeal breads, multigrain breads, whole grain breakfast cereals, whole grain crispbreads, wholemeal pasta and wholemeal couscous.
Not all whole grain foods are the same.
Whole grain foods like bread and breakfast cereal contain between 1.5 grams and 70 grams of whole grain per serve.
Choose Foods Higher in Whole Grain
Looking for bread higher in whole grain? Or need to get kids a breakfast cereal with more whole grain?
A clear and simple way to identify and choose better whole grain foods is to look for products which state:
Other helpful ways to choose foods higher in whole grain include:
Identifying Whole Grains
When checking to see if a food contains whole grain ingredients look for these words in the ingredient list:
|Words in Ingredient List||Is this Whole Grain?|
|whole grain [name of grain], whole wheat / whole [other grain], stoneground whole [grain], wholemeal, brown rice, oats, oatmeal, multigrain, sprouted, whole grain, malted whole grain, sorghum, quinoa, buckwheat||Yes, these are whole grain|
|wheat, or wheat flour, semolina, durum wheat, organic flour, stone ground||No, these are usually not whole grain|
|enriched flour, de-germinated (corn) bran, wheat germ, legumes such as soybeans, lupins, lentils, seeds like chia, linseed, sesame seed, etc.||No, these are not whole grain|
For more information on choosing whole grain foods and the recommended amount of whole grain check our page The Whole Grain Daily Target Intake.