Dietary Wholegrains

Image titleCereal grains comprise kernels made up of an outer fibre-rich coating known as the bran, an inner main body known as the endosperm, and a micronutrient-rich inner component known as the germ. Wholegrain means that all three components of the original grain kernel are intact. The process of grain milling and refining removes the bran and germ, resulting in refined flour consisting mainly of the starchy endosperm. Such flour makes for baked produce of softer texture and extended shelf-life but removes a host of important nutrients contained in the bran and germ. Wholegrains are an important component of a healthy diet and evidence demonstrates that their regular consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain digestive system cancers. Such health benefits are associated with consumption of the entire wholegrain package, which is rich source of fibre, vitamins (vitamin E and B vitamins), minerals (iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, selenium), essential fatty acids, and a range of bioactive components such as inulin, lignans, phytosterols, phytic acid, and tannins, amongst others. Consumption of these nutrients and compounds together is believed to have an additive and synergistic effect on health.  

What foods are good sources of wholegrains?

The following foods are all good dietary sources of wholegrains:

  • Porridge made with rolled oats of oatmeal
  • Whole-wheat cereals
  • Wholegrain muesli and cereal bars
  • Wholemeal, granary, rye, or mixed grain breads
  • Wholewheat crackers
  • Oatcakes
  • Wholemeal flour, wheatgerm, buckwheat flour
  • Brown rice, wholewheat pasta, bulgur wheat, quinoa, pearl barley

Simple recipe alterations such as the following can help increase the wholegrain content of meals:

  • make risottos, pilafs and other rice-like dishes with wholegrains such as barley, brown rice, bulgur wheat, millet, quinoa, or sorghum
  • substitute half the white flour with wholemeal flour when preparing baked items such as breads, muffins, scones, pancakes and biscuits
  • replace one third of the flour in a recipe with oats
  • for every 500 g of mince used to make burgers, meatballs or meatloaf, add 100 g of uncooked oats
  • add 100 g of cooked wheat, wild rice, brown rice, sorghum, or barley to soups
  • use wholemeal pizza bases
  • add 80 g of cooked bulgur, wild rice, or barley to bread stuffing mixes 
  • include tabbouleh made with quinoa as a salad option

How much is recommended in the diet?

2 – 3 servings per day. A serving may comprise of any of the following;

  • 120 g of cooked brown rice or other cooked grain
  • 120 g of cooked 100 % wholegrain pasta
  • 120 g of cooked oatmeal
  • 120 g of 100 % wholegrain ready-to-eat cereal
  • 30 g of uncooked wholegrain pasta, brown rice or other grain
  • 1 slice of 100 % wholegrain bread
  • 1 small (30 g) 100 % wholegrain muffin