Are wholegrains the new health hero?

Grains sometimes get a bad wrap, but it’s just a case of mixed messages and misinformation about low-carb diets since the noughties.

Not all grains are the same and when it comes to health benefits, quality is key.

Eating more wholegrains and cutting back on refined grain is one of the easiest switches you can make to improve your diet and reap the benefits.

Choosing wholegrains could help you achieve a smaller waist, a flat belly, healthier heart and a happier gut - and that’s just the start. Research links a diet high in wholegrains with a vast array of health benefits that can help you live longer and healthier.

Wholegrains are made up of fibre-rich bran, nutrient-packed germ, starchy endosperm and an array of phytonutrients. It’s the combination of all these elements that make them a health hero.

In processing refined grains, the bran and germ are removed and this results in a loss of up to 70% of the grain’s beneficial nutrients.

Swapping out refined grains (like white bread and white rice) for wholegrains (like grainy bread and brown rice) is a simple way that you can protect your body and improve your overall health and wellbeing.

The evidence to support the switch continues to grow. A new Australian study linked eating wholegrains with lower weight and body mass index (BMI) and found the opposite was true for refined grains.

Another study found that just adding 4-5 grams of grain fibre to a person’s diet every day could result in a saving of $607.3 million to healthcare costs each year.

Despite the benefits, most New Zealanders continue to go against the grain. Wholegrain foods are one of the key sources of dietary fibre for New Zealanders, and despite all the evidence supporting the benefits of wholegrains to overall health, the average dietary fibre intake is just 20g per day. The NHRMC recommends that adults should eat 28-38g per day to prevent non-communicable disease.  

5 wholegrain tips and swaps 

You should aim for 4-6 serves of grain foods a day with two thirds being wholegrains. Try these tasty tips and swaps to reach the target and add more wholegrains to your plate:

  • Top your smoothie bowl with a generous sprinkle of wholegrain breakfast cereal. Look for one that’s made from wholegrain wheat, oats or sorghum.

  • Choose wholegrain bread or wraps for lunchbox favourites.

  • Try wholegrain crackers with peanut butter or avocado as an afternoon snack; much better than diving into the biscuit barrel. 

  • Simple dinner swaps start with switching white pasta and rice for wholemeal pasta and brown rice. If fussy eaters are hard to please, slowly introduce the wholegrain versions with a 50/50 mix.

  • Add on-trend grains quinoa or buckwheat to a winter salad and make warming winter soups extra hearty with a handful of pearl barley.

Did you know?

By just eating 2-3 serves of wholegrains each day, you can reduce your risk of developing chronic disease by 20-30%!

Get to know your grains

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