Whole grains have been a staple food item in most cultures globally for thousands of years, and has been a core source of nutrients and energy. However, living in a modern food environment with so much food processing, when it comes to carbohydrates, whole grains have become a minority group on the supermarket shelves.
When we talk about whole grains we are talking about the unprocessed or minimally processed grains, think brown, wild or red rices, oats, barley, bulgur wheat, freekeh, buckwheat, quinoa (although technically a seed!), spelt, millet or farro, as well as minimally processed whole grain flours, breads or pastas.
A lot of whole grains do contain gluten, however for those who are unable to eat gluten, buckwheat, millet and quinoa are naturally gluten free whole grains.
Unprocessed whole grain carbohydrates (such as farro and brown rice) are much more nutritious than their refined counterparts. This is because they contain the ‘germ’ and the ‘bran’, whereas refined carbohydrates (such as white bread and white rice) are missing these two nutrient-packed components. It’s the refining process that strips the bran and germ from the grains, removing the fibre and micronutrients with it.
The germ and the bran provide fibre, B vitamins, healthy fats, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, energy and protein.
Try adding more whole grains to your diet by swapping out white pasta and breads for whole grain varieties, having oats for breakfast or making snacks with oats such as muesli bars or bliss balls, or using quinoa, wild rice or buckwheat in salads.
Meet the Nutritionist
Our in-house nutritionist Emma ‘Edamame’ was born and bred in mid Canterbury and has the health and wellbeing of Kiwis in mind at all times. As an NZ registered nutritionist (NZ Nutrition Society) with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from the University of Auckland, she makes sure we’re all getting our fresh dose of local veggies and our meals are full of nutritious substance – thanks for having our back Em (and our waistlines!). When it comes to New Zealand produce, Emma is a whizz, with fresh berries being her absolute fave. Intrigued to know what food this nutritionist couldn’t live without? Fresh fish and seafood, delivering on both flavour and nourishment. As well as ice cream, especially real fruit ice creams, in the summer time! Life’s all about a tasty balance, right?