• PALM Centre

Food of the month: Whole grains

Whole grains consist of bran, endosperm and germ. The nutritional benefits of wholegrains are all packed mainly in the bran and the germ. It is seen that westernised countries including Singapore consume more refined grains than wholegrains.

Types of wholegrains include:

Wheat, barley, oat, Rye

Corn, brown rice, millet

Wholegrain bread or cereals, quinoa, couscous

Singapore health promotion board (HPB) recommends 2-3 servings (or 50g) of whole grains a day for adults. A substitution of at least 15-20% of refined grains with wholegrains would be recommended if you are new to consuming wholegrains. This is in consideration of achievability at a national level.

Benefits of Whole grains

Low in saturated fat

Good source of carbohydrates

Source of polyunsaturated fats including omega 3

Good source of B vitamins

Cholesterol free

Good source of minerals (iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, zinc)

High in soluble, insoluble fibre & resistance starch

Good source of antioxidants and phytochemicals

Protective chemicals in wholegrains

Lignans: Can lower risk of coronary heart disease

Phytic acid: Reduce glycemic index of foods

Saponins, phytosterols, squalene, oryzanol and tocotrienols: Found to lower blood cholesterol

Phenolic compounds: Antioxidant effect

What happens when wholegrains become refined?

  • The bran and germ layer are usually removed

  • Significant loss of vitamins, minerals, fibres, phytochemicals

  • Refined products generally have high content of sugars, fat and/or salt.

  • Glycemic index is altered (from low to high).

Some hard facts

The prevalence of chronic diseases associated with low habitual intake of wholegrain foods in Singaporean adults’ aged 18 to 64 years has risen rapidly from 9 to 11.3% (for diabetes) and 6 to 10.8% (for obesity) between 1998 and 2010 respectively

Start including whole grains into your daily life with these simple swaps:

Nevertheless, if this sudden change does not work for you, starting slow is better than not. Use the 50/50 method as a good start.

Look out for our next post on Heart attack.

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