Chewing it over
People have been eating whole grains for more than 17,000 years – they picked seeds, rubbed off the husks and chewed the kernels raw or boiled them in water.
Egyptians used to bury mummies with necklaces made from barley, and in 1324 King Edward II of England set the standard for the measurement - making the ‘inch’ equal to ‘three grains of barley, dry and round, placed end-to-end lengthwise’.
A whole lot of grains
One bushel of wheat contains around a million individual whole grain kernels.
War on whole grain
Amaranth is a whole grain that was incredibly important to the Aztecs. So when the Spanish invaded, their leader, Cortez, tried to destroy the Aztecs by not allowing them to grow it – anyone caught was put to death!
Tut, tut ...
Khorasan grain is a wheat variety that was brought to the US as a souvenir from an Egyptian tomb - it was sold as ‘King Tut’s Wheat’. Now known as kamut, an ancient Egyptian word for wheat, this rich, buttery-tasting wheat is certified organic.
Rice in disguise
Wild rice isn’t really rice at all – it’s the seed of an aquatic grass originally grown by Native American tribes. It has a strong flavour and is quite expensive so it’s usually mixed with other types of rice.
Wheat is the most widely grown cereal grain. It’s grown on over 17 per cent of the total cultivated land in the world, and is the staple food for 35 per cent of the world’s population. It provides more calories and protein in the world’s diet than any other crop.
Pop goes the kernel!
Popcorn is simply a puffed-up whole grain. It’s made from a special type of corn called ‘zea mays everta’ – the only type of corn that can ‘pop’.
Try popping your own corn at home with the kids – great fun!
Food of goods and kings
In Asia, the Amaranth grain is known as ‘king seed’ and ‘seed sent by God’.
Quinoa, pronounced ‘keen-wa’, is a whole grain that was highly prized by the ancient Incas – they called it ‘gold of the Incas’.
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As well as being a healthy choice for people who want to reduce the amount of gluten in their diet, or have coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance, Gluten Free Corn Flakes are fortified with B-vitamins, folic acid and iron
It’s too early to say. The science in this area is still emerging. There is evidence that low GI foods take longer to digest and help you feel satisfied for longer, but none that you’ll eat fewer calories at the next meal.
Not yet, but we will keep listening and responding to people’s needs.
The serving sizes mentioned on breakfast cereals can slightly differ, mainly due to differences in product density. Beyond its nutrients density, it’s also important for the portion size to suit the average cereal bowl. Some types of breakfast cereals, such as mueslis or granolas, are denser than traditional flakes; so a 30 g serving could look tiny and unrealistic in a bowl – that's why we use 45 g as a reference. These different serving sizes have been defined by the European cereals trade association and consistently applied by all industry members in Europe.
No. Even though some foods made with whole grain have a high GI, you can still benefit by including them in a healthy, balanced diet. Eating lots of whole grain can be good for the heart, even if the GI of the food is high. The whole population can benefit from eating more whole grain; the effect of low GI foods is still not clear.