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Eat Wholegrains for Better Health0 Comments

admin | 2:56 pm | March 14, 2011 | Nutrition


Wholegrain has become somewhat of a buzzword in nutrition. A wholegrain is essentially a cereal grain that contain the germ, endosperm and bran. Refined grains, on the other hand, have the germ and bran removed. Wholemeal refers to a wholegrain that has been ground into flour.

Wholegrains are far superior nutritionally to refined grains. The problem is, most people survive on refined grains (like refined cereals, white rice, white pasta and white flour products like white bread and baked goods), when they could be thriving on wholegrains. One of the biggest challenges I face as a practicing dietician is to get people to eat wholegrains. The main reasons being the convenience of refined products and the lack of knowledge of how to prepare wholegrains.

Why You Need Wholegrains?

One of the main reasons we eat wholegrains is because of their high fibre content. Information obtained from the Women’s Health Study, which followed the dietary habits of 36,000 women for 6 years, found that those who ate the most wholegrains also enjoyed the lowest diabetes risk. Wholegrains not only contain fibre, which can mop up glucose in the digestive system, but also have lower glycemic indexes than refined foods, both of which help with diabetes prevention. Studies have also linked high fibre diets with a lowered risk of heart disease. The Women’s Health Study also showed that women consuming the most wholegrains also had lower breast cancer risks. Fibre also has the ability to improve digestive health. Wholegrains are a rich source of insoluble fibre, which increases stool bulk and decreases the transit time of waste through the intestines. Fibre also helps lower the risk of colon cancer and other bowel-related diseases.

Wholegrains are also powerhouses of nutrition. Wholegrains are rich in B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and folate as well as minerals like manganese, selenium, iron, phosphorous and magnesium.

Examples of Wholegrain Foods Include:


Wheat and gluten free millet also has the most alkaline pH of all the grains. Millet can be enjoyed both as a sweet porridge and as a savory grain at main meals.


It’s the breakfast of choice for millions of people, and it should be. Oats is a wheat free grain that does contain some gluten, but in a more digestible form. It can be eaten cooked as porridge or raw as muesli. Its delicious mixed with dried fruits and nuts and served with yogurt.


Quinoa is a grain native to South America, which has gained popularity in the West due to its exceptional nutritional content. Once cooked quinoa resembles small, almost transparent circular grains. It is delicious on its own as a side dish or missed with vegetables in much the same way as paella.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is rice in its unadulterated, purest form. Brown rice is both wheat and gluten free. Rice can be served as part of any meal and is an excellent side dish for curries and stir-fry’s.


Barley is one of the healthiest and most fibre rich grains, but probably the most nutritionally neglected. It is wheat-free but contains gluten. It is excellent in winter soups and is also good cold added to salads or just enjoyed as a side dish.


Rye is a wheat-free but gluten containing grain that is traditionally eaten in the form of breads or crackers.


Wheat gets quite a bad rap in the media, but as long as we eat wholewheat products we will still reap the health benefits of wheat. A Wholewheat kernel is wheat in its unadulterated, purest form and it makes an excellent salad or side dish. Most of the time, we eat wholewheat in the form of bread. Pasta and cereals also contains wheat and can be purchased in the wholewheat form.


Maize is a widely used ingredient in the food industry but its whole grain maize that is really responsible for the health benefits of maize. The rawest form of maize is a mielie. Popcorn is also a wholegrain form of maize.

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