Let's talk about whole grains and why it is so important in our diet.
Do you know that all grains started as wholegrains? During the refining or milling process, the outer layers (germ and bran) which have loads of beneficial nutrients are removed to reveal the starchy endosperm layer also known as refined grains. Common products such as white flour, rice, pasta and noodles have all been stripped off their fibre-packed vitamin-rich layers. Checkout helpful illustration below.
Image source: www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2016/03/31/the-whole-grain-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts/
So why are refined grains bad for us? Refined grains generally have a high-glycemic index (GI), this means it gets digested and absorbed very quickly by the body hence causes a faster rise in blood sugar which can have negative health effects. Eating many high GI foods on a daily basis can lead to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and weigh gain. Foods with a low GI have shown to help control type 2 diabetes and improve weight loss.
What's so good about whole grains?
Whole-grains are packed with vitamins, antioxidants and fibre. A diet rich in wholegrains has been shown to improve digestive health and bowel movements, lower the risk of developing heart diseases, diabetes and certain cancers. Whole grains also provide bulk to the diet, promotes the feeling of satiety (fullness) and helps reduce the risk of overeating.
How much do we need to eat?
The Dietary Guidelines for Adult Singaporeans from HPB recommends that we eat sufficient amounts of whole grains instead of refined grains. Adults should aim to consume 5-7 servings, 3 to 6 years of age should consumer 3-4 servings and babies 6 months+ to 2 years of age to consume 2-3 servings. Examples of 1 serving of wholegrain foods.
Image source: www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/183/whole_grains_wise_choice
If you have heard the recent National Day Rally, you would have heard PM talking about choosing the healthier option: brown rice. The good news is that there are many other varieties of rice and they all contain a wholesome blend of nutrients, flavour and texture! Let’s look at four rice varieties and their benefits relative to those of the common brown rice. This is an awesome infographic from HPB.
Choose Whole Grains!
The even better news is that there is a good variety of whole grain products in our local supermarkets. You will be surprised by some of these wholesome offerings! Below are a feature of some products (not an exhaustive list) that are packed with wholegrain goodness, you'll be surprised to find these 'treasures' in our local stores. Click on product and get directed to local online store for more info.
1. Thai Rice Blend (FairPrice)
A mixture of red, brown and white rice. Perfect for 'beginners' who can't accept a full bowl of nutty grainy goodness (just yet). 2.1g of fibre /100g.
2. Mixed Rice,Brown and Red (Naturel Organic)
A good blend of organic brown and red rice that is pretty palatable for 'beginners' too. 4.4g of fibre/100g
3. Thai Brown Unpolished Rice (FairPrice)
100% whole kernel rice that has a mild nutty taste. It has 3g of fibre /100g.
4. Red Cargo Rice (New Moon)
100% red cargo rice, if you don't mind going 'hardcore' this will be the ideal choice. With about 4.6g of fibre/100g, it also has higher fiber content than other varieties. Do pre-soak before cooking and add a little more water (about 10 to 15% more) than usual.
1. Ban Mee Brown Rice (Farmer Brand)
8 mins is all it takes to prepare this local favorite, a healthier version made with premium wheat flour and brown rice.
2. Whole grain Kway Teow (Kang Kang)
Oh i could think of so many ways to cook with this healthier Kway Teow (flat rice noodles)! Made with wholegrains, it is also lower in fat. The even better news is that there are other varieties like Hokkien noodles (yellow noodles) and Bee Tai Mak (Short rice noodles)
3. Oat Mee Suar (Harvest)
This thin rice noodles is a delight because it only takes a few mins to cook. This noodle is one of my kid's favourite, i boil it in broth, throw in a few stalks of veggies and an egg- a perfect nutritious meal! There are also a other varieties. I found this product in Mothercare but you also also find it in Four Seasons Organic Market
4. Wholewheat Mee Suar (Sun Brand)
A healthier version of the a soft and silky smooth rice noodles. Perfect for our young ones and elderly too.
5. Wholemeal Pasta (San Remo)
Pasta is such a common staple and it will make a great difference in our diet if we were to choose to include (or mix in a little) wholemeal/grain versions. The whole meal varieties will take a little longer to cook. I will suggest adding 3 to 5 mins additional boiling time for the perfect al dente.
6. Brown Rice Vermicelli (ecoBrown's)
This thin rice noodles is ideal for frying as it brings out the mild nutty flavour even more. The flavour is almost the same as any normal vermicelli. With 4.6g of fibre/100g, it is almost 2 to 3 times more than a normal refined vermicelli. I think it's is really worth 'converting' for.
1. Wholemeal Wrap (Gardenia)
I have made many quick lunches with these versatile wraps. Put some of your favorite sandwich fillings (e.g. scramble eggs, lettuce, cheese etc...) and roll it up for perfect healthy treat. The family favourite is to use this as a pizza base and load it with your kind of toppings and bake in oven at 190 degree C for about 6 to 10 mins. Yup, it's that easy. Another kids-crowd pleaser!
2. Instant rolled oats (Sanitarium)
Cook it with milk, use it in your cookie or pancake recipe, it is that versatile. 100% whole grain goodness!
3. Low Sugar Smart Carb Bread (Sunshine)
This healthy loaf has a low sugar and GI, that's even better!
4. Wholemeal Hot Dog Buns (Sunshine)
A whole new meaning to having a yummy hot dog treat! Choose a healthier lean sausage, sprinkle on some finely sliced lettuce or spinach leaves to up the healthy treat notch!
5. Super Fine & Soft Wholemeal Bread (Gardenia)
If you think your family members are picky and will not be happy with wholemeal breads, I think this product is great because it's so soft and an easy 'transition', they may even fall in love!
1. Nutremill 4 in 1 instant Cereal with Brown Rice (Super)
Tea break time can be made healthier with a low fat and brown rice cereal drink. It's loaded with nutrients and can help you feel full until dinner time.
2. Oat Krunch (Munchys)
Packed in a convenient sachet, it's an ideal on the-go-snack! Made with oats and some berries, this is a much healthier treat than the usual refined sugary cookies.
3. Nestum with cereal Brown rice, Wheat Oat and Barley drink (Nestle)
I have yet to try this product but it's good to know that 1 bottle of NESTUM Cereal with Milk 225ml gives you the Fibre equivalent to one slide of whole-grain white break, Protein equivalent to one egg and Calcium equivalent to 1 glass of milk.
4. Nestum Multigrain Cereal Milk Drink (Nestle)
I find that this fills me up (that's a good thing!) it's higher in whole-grains and contains skimmed milk.1 Serving of Nestum 3 in 1 Brown Rice will provide you with 18.9% of your daily whole grain requirement.
I have featured and review a couple of wholegrain breakfast cereals in my previous post. Have a read here.
I hope you are delighted (or surprised) by the selection of whole grain products our local markets have to offer. Bear in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and there are many more whole grain products for you to discover. Start enjoying the benefits of whole grains today!