Whole Grains for Kids Health

What is a wholegrain?

A ‘whole grain’ refers to an intact grain. It must contain all three components of a grain – the bran layer, endosperm, and germ. Each component has unique nutrients that fuel and support positive health[1]. Examples of whole grain food sources include oats, brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa and more.

Why should children and adolescents be eating more whole grain foods?

Wholegrain intake in Australia is below recommendations in all age groups therefore increasing whole grain consumption would be beneficial to individuals of all ages.

There are many health benefits of consuming wholegrains which can support Australian children’s growth and development. 

Fuel for the Body

Wholegrains, which are a great source of energy is essential in supporting the growth and development of children and adolescents. The high fibre content and vitamins and minerals from wholegrains provides a steady stream of fuel to both the brain and muscles to support performance in the classroom and outdoor activities.

Fuel for the Mind

Due to whole grains high fibre, vitamins and antioxidant properties, consumption has been associated with improved cognition[1]. This can support children and adolescents’ focus, concentration, and creativity in the classroom. The healthy fatty acids found in whole grain foods have been seen to support improved mental health and assist emotional regulation, an important dietary factor for this group5.

Early Disease Prevention

It is crucial for school-aged children to meet the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of wholegrain foods as they play a foundational role in establishing healthy dietary patterns and can protect the long-term health of young Australian children by reducing the risk of developing chronic disease such as Cardiovascular disease, Cancer and Type 2 Diabetes[1].

What is the recommended daily intake of whole grain food sources?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends the below number of standard serves per day:

Age GroupAustralian recommended daily grain intake for boysAustralian recommended daily grain intake for girls
4 to 8-year-old
4 serves per day4 serves per day
9 to 11-year-old5 serves per day4 serves per day
12 to 13-year-old6 serves per day5 serves per day
14 to 18-year-old7 serves per day7 serves per day

This resource was created in collaboration with  Federation of Canteens in Schools Inc, to educate school canteens and parents about the importance of including whole grains in the diets of Australian children.


1 Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council. (n.d.) Retrieved January 2023 .https://www.glnc.org.au/resource/wholegrains/
2 Galea, L., Beck, E., Probst, Y., & Cashman, C. (2017). Whole grain intake of Australians estimated from a cross-sectional analysis of dietary intake data from the 2011–13 Australian Health Survey. Public
Health Nutrition, 20(12), 2166-2172.
3 Okarter, N., & Liu, R. (2010). Health benefits of whole grains phytochemicals. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 50(3 ), 193-208, https://doi.org/10.1080/10408390802248734
4 Parletta, N., Milte, C., & Meyer, B. (2013). Nutrition modulation of cognitive function and mental health. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 24(5), 725-743, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2013.01.002
5 Oddy, W. H., Robinson, M., Ambrosini, G. L., OSullivan, T. A., de Klerk, N. H., Beilin, L. J., Silburn, S. R., Zubrick, S. R., & Stanley, F. J. (2009). The association between dietary patterns and mental health in
early adolescence. Preventive Medicine, 49(1), 39–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.05.009
6 Okarter, N., & Liu, R. (2010). Health benefits of whole grains phytochemicals. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 50(3 ), 193-208, https://doi.org/10.1080/10408390802248734
7 National Health and Medical Research Council. (2013). Eat for health: Australian dietary guidelines. Retrieved from https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines

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