In Australia, Nordic nations are best known for their chilly climate, flat-pack furniture, and addictive TV crime shows, but why not their whole grain habits? This Whole Grain Week, we’re encouraging you to eat like the Danish – who enjoy more than three times the amount of whole grain than most Aussies!
Our second Whole Grain Week (17-23 June) is all about spreading the word on how important whole grain foods are in our diet, inspiring Australians to make simple swaps for big health benefits and switch up their whole grain variety. And this year we’re encouraging you to take the Whole Grain Challenge.
Whole grain foods like brown rice, pasta, oats, and wholemeal bread are packed with nutrition, and there’s good evidence that people who eat them regularly are less likely to develop heart disease, type 2 diabetes, even bowel cancer.
But unfortunately few Australians eat enough; 59% of us choose refined grains, eating an average of just 21g whole grain per day – less than half the recommended 48g Daily Target Intake.
The ‘New Nordic Diet,’ is one of the latest diets where whole grain foods feature heavily – think rye bread, oats, and barley, so it will come as no surprise that Danes devour an average of 63 grams of whole grain each day – trebling the Aussie effort!
Most of us know whole grain foods are full of fibre, but Accredited Practising Dietitians Alex Parker and Anna Debenham from The Biting Truth say there’s actually much more to it. “Whole grains are little nutrition powerhouses, delivering more than 26 nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, fibre, even antioxidants.”
So why don’t we eat more whole grain? For many Australians, it comes down to the extra time it may take to cook whole grains, as well as simply being in the habit of choosing refined grains like white bread, rice, and pasta. So how can you enjoy the health benefits of eating more, without compromising on taste or time? Themis Chryssidis and Callum Hann, from Sprout Cooking School say a bit of prior planning is key:
“Many whole grain varieties actually only take an average of just 4 minutes longer to cook than white varieties. But you can cut cooking time further by soaking grains like freekeh or brown rice overnight, or for a few hours in advance. You could also cook a big batch of whole grains on a free afternoon and freeze individual portions in snap-lock bags or containers – ready to throw in your lunch bag or defrost for dinner!” says Themis, an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
The duo also suggest checking out the expanding grains section in the supermarket, which is bursting with convenient microwaveable products and interesting new varieties – think quinoa/rice mixes, wild rice and every colour rice you can imagine – red, black, purple, barley, teff, amaranth, buckwheat and many more.
So why not try a few simple swaps this Whole Grain Week to boost your health, without compromising on taste or time. Check out our handy ready reckoner to see how you can reach your 48g every day!
The Biting Truth’s top three whole grain nutrition benefits!
1. Eating whole grains protects our health in the long-term, against things like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer.
2. Choosing whole grain foods may help with weight maintenance: people who eat whole grains regularly are likely to have a healthy weight and waist circumference.
3. They’re great for our gut: the fibre in whole grains ‘feeds’ our good gut bacteria, which may improve our health in other ways – controlling our appetite, reducing inflammation, and boosting immunity.
Try these delicious recipes to help you hit your whole grain target!
– These delicious Baked Oats are a breakfast the whole family will love.
– Enjoy a classic for lunch with an Egg & Lettuce Sandwich on wholemeal bread.
– Make a batch of these Corn & Zucchini Muffins to tide you over for morning or afternoon tea!
– For dinner, this Freekeh, Lentil & Bean Salad makes a great stand-alone or side dish with fish.
For more information on Whole Grain Week or to find out how you can help spread the whole grain message, visit our website here.