A recent survey of children in Singapore ages 6 to 12 years carried out by Newcastle University International Singapore looked at wholegrain intakes for this group. The findings revealed that 6 out of 10 children are not eating any wholegrain foods and 94% of children were not achieving the recommended wholegrain intake.
Grains are the seeds from cereal plants. Grains are made up of 3 parts – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Wholegrain foods contain all parts of the grain. Refined grains contain only the endosperm part of the grain. Wholegrains have a higher nutrient content than refined grains. Wholegrains provide fibre, B vitamins, vitamin E, trace minerals, phytochemicals, and unsaturated fats.
A diet rich in wholegrains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Including wholegrains in your child’s diet will help maintain normal bowel habit and provide a range of nutrients crucial for good health.
There is no international consensus on the optimal intake of wholegrains. Some countries recommend 3 servings a day. To increase your child’s wholegrain intake, consider the following:
- Choose a breakfast cereal that contains wholegrains such as porridge or wholewheat biscuits. The ingredients list should specify if wholegrain are present. Avoid cereals with high levels of added sugar.
- Choose wholegrain breads,crackers, crisp breads, pittas and wraps.
- Use wholegrain or unrefined flours for baking.
- Choose wholegrain options as the carbohydrate source in main meals e.g. wholegrain pasta, brown rice, red rice, brown rice bee hoon (vermicelli), bulgar wheat, barley, quinoa.
Further information on wholegrain from the British Dietetic Association can be found here.