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The importance of whole grains

Whole grains are the seed or kernel of plants that store nutrients important in our diet and have been shown to have positive health benefits.

Whole grains contain all 3 components of the grain kernel:

  • Bran (outer layer) contains fibre, some vitamins, trace elements and phytochemicals.
  • Germ (middle layer) contains protein, fats, vitamins, trace minerals, some phytochemicals and antioxidants.
  • Endosperm (inner layer) contains carbohydrates, proteins and some vitamins.

Whole Grains

WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

Whole grains are important sources of beneficial nutrients like protein, fibre, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. The health benefits associated with eating whole grains were initially attributed to the fibre content. Research now suggests that it is the complete package of vitamins minerals, phytochemicals and fibre that is responsible for its health benefits. Studies show that regular intake of whole grains can help to protect against a number of diseases such as coronary heart disease and also appear to lower the risk of certain types of cancer.

WHICH FOODS CONTAIN WHOLEGRAINS?

Foods must contain 51% by weight of any combination of whole grains to be able to use the term “whole grain???. Rye, wheat, rice, barley, oats and corn (maize) are types of whole grains found in a range of everyday foods, particularly in breads and cereals. Whole grains may be whole or processed. Even if the grain has been cracked, crushed, ground or extruded, made into flour, bread or cereal, it can still be called “whole grain??? as long as it contains the same relative proportions of bran, germ and endosperm before processing. Whole Grains

HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?

Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide recommends adults get 6-8 servings of Grain products group each day. It is also recommended that half of these should be as whole grains.

GOOD FOOD GOOD LIFE TIPS FOR HOW TO INCULDE MORE WHOLE GRAINS EVERY DAY

When choosing whole grain products, keep in mind that the greater the percentage of whole grains in a food, the greater the health benefits it provides.

  • Choose whole grain or wholemeal breads instead of white bread
  • Serve meals with brown rice, wild rice or wholemeal pasta
  • Snack on unbuttered popcorn and whole grain crackers
  • Choose breakfast cereals that contain whole grains
  • Include corn kernels or corn-on-the-cob with a meal
  • Add oats to muffins and crumbles
  • Choose grain products that are lower in fat, sugar or salt
  • Read the label to find out if the first ingredient listed is whole grain

Ref: Whole Grains-Get the Facts, Health Canada website, 2008