Wholegrains: Why are they important?



Which foods can be wholegrain?

Anything made from wheat grains or wholegrain flour:

  • Brown pasta
  • Rice including brown rice, basmati, wild rice, jasmine rice. NOT sushi rice, pilau or regular white rice – these have been processed to not include the wholegrain.
  • Wholemeal bread. If it says, ‘brown bread’, this doesn’t always mean it’s made from wholegrain flour! You can tell by checking the ingredients list for the type of flour used.
  • Cereals such as oats, barley, bran and wheat (e.g wheatabix or bran flakes).
    ![image|270x205](upload://zaWaoTeTjXhO5bOjt1cuyj9Lmtw.jpeg Benefits

Vitamins : Wholegrain, starchy carbohydrates provide B vitamins, iron, calcium and folate.

Fiber: Essential for good digestive health and is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. Fibre intake in the UK is currently well below the recommended level of 30 g per day for adults.

But aren’t carbs fattening?

Strictly speaking, not really. Gram for gram, carbohydrates (and protein) contain less than half the amount of calories/energy than fat - 4kcal/g vs 9kcal/g in fat.
Therefore, when typically combined with high fat ingredients, e.g. butter on bread, cheese on a pizza base (bread), or creamy sauces with pasta, of course this makes them much higher in calories!!

Low Carb Diets

In general, there is little evidence that low carbohydrate diets work long term. Around 50% of our daily energy intake should be coming from carbohydrates (like the wholegrain varieties mentioned here). By cutting these out or dramatically reducing them, think about where else your calories will be coming from? More fat in the diet? We know these contain more than double the calories than carbohydrates. Overall, low carb or no carb diets tend to be unsustainable, with any initial weight loss soon being gained back when the original diet is taken up again. It’s much healthier to make small changes in eating habits, include more wholegrains and have a healthy, balanced way of eating you can maintain for life.

How could you include more wholegrains in your diet? Could you reduce the amount of fat you have with them? Are there any carbohydrates you regularly eat that could be swapped for wholegrain versions?