Get to know grains: the 101 on this nutritious food. 

There’s more than meets the eye to those tasty grains…

From the better-known rice and rye, to the lesser known spelt and sorghum, there are several different types of grains[1]. In fact, its likely that youll eat various types of grains without even knowing. Oats for breakfast perhaps?  A wheat bread sandwich for lunch? Pasta for dinner and then perhaps even popcorn in front of a film? 

You might be surprised to know that in the past, eight cereal grains in particular (wheat, corn, rice, barley, sorghum, oats, rye, and millet) provided 56% of the food energy and 50% of the protein consumed on earth[2]! 

Whatever your favourite grain may be, theyre often filled with benefits; particularly whole grains[3]. Heres the lowdown on grains and the goodness they contain 

What are grains?

Grains, or rather whole grains, are the seeds of cereal plants such as barley, rye, corn and wheat[4]. Whole grains, which are essentially unprocessed grains, are made up of a tough outer shell, a carbohydrate middle and the inner part filled with nutrients[5]. 

Pseudocereals such as quinoa and brown rice, are classed as non-grass plants. These also have seeds, which also fall under the whole grainrealm[6]. 

Often, whole grains are processed in such a way that they become known as refined grains’. This means the tough outer shell and the inner part have been removed[7]. White rice, white pasta and white flour are examples of refined grains. 

Whole grains and their benefits

There are good reasons as to why whole grains have been part of the human diet for so many thousands of years[8]. In fact, studies have found that including whole grains in the diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes[9].

Note how it is whole grains that provide the majority of these benefits as they contain all part of the original grain. 

One of the big benefits of whole grains is the fibre they contain. In the UK, its advised that we eat at least 30g of fibre a day[10]. For perspective, 100g of cooked bulgur wheat contains 5g of fibre[11]. This fibre could help provide food for friendlygut bacteria, helping them to thrive.  

Whole grains are also famous for helping to lower levels of bad cholesterol, which could be down to their fibre content[12]. 

Theres even a study which found that three servings of whole grains daily, was associated with a 19% reduced incidence of coronary heart disease[13]. 

There are also many vitamins and minerals crammed into whole grains. Examples include the B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, copper and magnesium, which all contribute to good health[14]. 

Gluten free grains

Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, barley and rye[15]. If youre gluten intolerant or suffer from coeliac disease, then youll want to avoid these cereals. However, there are grains which are gluten free. These include buckwheat, corn, hemp, maize, polenta and Teff[16]. 

You can find out more about our tasty range of gluten free range products here.

Simple ways to eat more whole grains

In the UK, most of the grains we eat are refined. In fact, The Association of UK Dieticians says that surveys show how a staggering 95% of UK adults dont eat enough whole grains, whilst nearly one in three get none at all[17]! There are some easy swaps that can be made to boost your intake of wholegrains though.  

For breakfast, how about a bowl of Eat Natural Ancient Grains Toasted Muesli, filled with buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, chia and oat, for a grain-filled breakfast thats high in fibre?

At lunch time, opt for whole grain breads and wraps when making sandwiches, and at dinner time, try the wholevarieties of pasta, rice and noodles.  

Just be sure to look out for the word wholeat the start of the product name, to be sure it contains the whole grain. 

You can discover more of our cereals that are packed with tasty and nutritious whole grain ingredients here.