Whole grains are more than just a health fad. They boast heaps of nutritional benefits to give you and your family a head start on healthy living!
Whole grains contain some antioxidants that aren’t present in fruits and vegetables, according to The Whole Grains Council, and are also packed with other health-boosting ingredients including magnesium, iron, fibre and B vitamins, which are proven to combat many chronical diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.
Mums and dads, despite these benefits did you know that 94% of children are eating less than 3 servings of recommended intakes of whole grain in Singapore?
It seems as if we could all benefit from consuming more wholegrain. Read up and find out exactly why the whole grain is our great ally when it comes to setting the family up for a bright and healthy future, how much of it we should be serving, and a couple of super easy ways to incorporate the wonder ingredient into our daily meals.
Why exactly are whole grains healthy?
Let’s get to know the holistic grain better.
Whole grains are made up of three parts: bran, endosperm, and the germ. All these parts are packed with fibre, minerals, and nutrients like Vitamin B, E, magnesium, antioxidants, proteins and essential fats:
Most commonly consumed foods such as white bread and pasta are refined. Unfortunately, the refining process strips the wheat of the germ and outer bran layer, consequently stripping away the important fibre and nutrients too! Whole grains, on the other hand, keep all their natural goodness.
Ready for a bit of trivia?
Bran is what gives whole wheat its darker color. It also contains phytonutrients, which help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, according to the University of California, Davis.
A whole lot of benefits
With all the fibre, minerals, and nutrients whole grains contain, it’s no surprise that consuming them regularly leads to good health benefits. To name a few, whole grains:
- Helps fight cancer
- Helps to reduce cholesterol levels, type 2 diabetes, and the risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Lowers the risk of major weight gain
Plus, it’s actually quite easy to get the health benefits of whole grains when you eat 3 or more servings a day. All it takes is two small adjustments to your daily meal planning:
First, ensure that you and your family follow the recommended daily whole grains intake of 48 grams (just over 3 tablespoons!), as stated by the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council.
There are lots of sources of whole grains, such as whole grain breakfast cereals, brown breads, rice, flour, tortillas, pasta, and crackers — but make sure to check the label to see if whole grains are indeed the main ingredient.
- Ideally, it should be first on the list of ingredients. The earlier it’s listed, the more whole grains it contains
- Watch out for misleading labels such as multi-grain, 100% wheat, organic, real grain… which don’t necessarily mean they contain all 3 natural parts of whole grains
Tip: To ensure you give your family whole grain products, you must understand what these labels mean:
- Multi-grain – Contains a combination of grains such as wheat, millet, barley, and flax, but not necessarily whole grains
- 100% wheat – Contains purely wheat, but not necessarily whole grains
To help you get started on your meal planning adjustments, here’s a cheat sheet on how many servings of different whole grain foods you need to meet the daily requirement:
A serving of cereal for breakfast + a sandwich made with wholemeal bread for lunch already does the trick! Serve whole grain pasta or brown rice for dinner some nights to change it up. How easy is that, mums?
Second, sneak whole grains into your family’s daily diet, from breakfast to snack time using these easy tips:
- Make simple swaps – Switch white products such as rice, bread, crackers, and pasta for their whole grain counterparts. Use whole grain bread crumbs for frying and stack whole grain crackers for snack time instead!
- Serve whole grain cereals – Did you know that breakfast cereals are found to be the major contributors to whole grain intakes? Make sure to check the cereal pack if the #1 ingredient is whole grains.
- Jazz up your usual breakfast food – Get creative with these oh-so-good- whole grain cereals. Adding fresh fruit or mixing them into a yogurt parfait make for healthy and yummy treats.
Don’t let your family lose out on the amazing health benefits of whole grains. Although small in stature, they’re packed-full of nutritional goodness to ensure a healthy diet.