Grains of truth for a healthy and filling diet
Nel Stavely looks at how to up your grain intake
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