Grains of truth for a healthy and fill­ing diet

Nel Stavely looks at how to up your grain in­take

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FOOD AND DRINK -

THREE slices of a bread a day – doesn’t sound too dif­fi­cult, does it?

But ac­cord­ing to new fig­ures from New­cas­tle Uni­ver­sity, most of us (nearly 80 per cent) are fall­ing short of the rec­om­mended 48g of whole­grains a day (that’s the equiv­a­lent of three slices of a whole­grain loaf, by the way).

In fact, it seems many Brits are man­ag­ing to munch a mere 20g a day, and it could mean we’re miss­ing out on vi­tal health-boost­ing benefits.

So why are so many of us dodg­ing whole­grains?

Some the­o­ries point to a gen­eral fear of ‘brown food’ be­ing bor­ing, while oth­ers won­der whether we’ve be­come so wary of any­thing con­tain­ing wheat and gluten that we’re shun­ning any­thing bread/ pasta-like.

What­ever the pos­si­ble rea­sons be­hind the whole­grain boy­cott, one fact re­mains: it needs to change.

“Stud­ies have shown that di­ets rich in whole­grain foods can re­duce the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease [heart dis­ease and stroke], cer­tain types of can­cer and type 2 di­a­betes,” stresses lead­ing nutri­tion­ist, Fiona Hunter.

“The mech­a­nisms by which whole­grains help pre­vent th­ese dis­eases are not fully un­der­stood, but may in­clude an­tiox­i­dant pro­tec­tion, the ef­fect of fi­bre in the di­ges­tive tract and the in­take of phy­to­chem­i­cals.

“Higher whole­grain in­take has been linked to lower body weight, BMI and choles­terol lev­els.

“Stud­ies sug­gest that whole­grain foods may be more fill­ing than their re­fined coun­ter­parts, which may help body weight reg­u­la­tion and re­duce the urge for snack­ing be­tween meals. A study of 50,000 US nurses found that those who ate a diet high in fi­bre and whole­grain food were least likely to be over­weight.”

So what are you wheat­ing for? Now you know the whole(grain) truth about how im­por­tant it is to up your quota, here are nine ways to do it: Eat por­ridge “Start the day with some whole­grains at break­fast, like por­ridge or muesli,” says Hunter. “If you don’t have time for a bowl of ce­real then try break­fast bis­cuits which can pro­vide whole­grain.” Still on the oats theme, Hunter also sug­gests us­ing por­ridge oats in crum­ble toppings. Swap white bread “Swap white bread for whole­meal bread – look for the words ‘whole­grain’ or ‘whole­meal’ on the la­bel.” It hon­estly doesn’t taste any worse. And white rice “Choose brown rice in­stead of white. Look out for brown bas­mati and quick-cook brown rice.” Again, taste isn’t com­pro­mised. And white flour “Use whole­meal flour for bak­ing,” ad­vises Hunter. “If you’re not used to bak­ing with whole­meal flour, start by sub­sti­tut­ing half the white flour with whole­meal. As you get used to it, you can grad­u­ally in­crease the pro­por­tion.” Ban crack­ers If you want an easy snack or a bet­ter ba­sis for your hum­mus/cheese/ other top­ping of choice, “try oat­cakes or whole­meal crack­ers in­stead of cream crack­ers”. Avoid cous­cous It seems su­per healthy, and in many ways it is, but not as healthy as bul­gur wheat for those whole­grain lev­els. Add bar­ley Add bar­ley to soups and stews, it makes them thicker, creamier and all-round bet­ter. Eat pop­corn A nice one, this: “Pop­corn is a whole­grain, so as a treat, swap crisps for un­salted, sugar-free pop­corn.” And sweet­corn “Corn on the cob is whole­grain, so serve it as a veg­etable or add sweet­corn to recipes like spaghetti bolog­nese, or chilli con carne.”

Pop­corn can make a healthy snack

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