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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For the last 15 years we’ve been working to reduce the sodium (which is the major component of salt) in our breakfast cereals across the world, because we want to keep on making them more nutritious. Achieving consistency on all products, in all countries, takes time - so some may have more sodium than others. Our aim is for all our cereals – globally – to have the same reduced levels of sodium, with a target of less than 135mg per serving in all our children’s products.
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
Two things to remember: • Look for food labels where the word 'whole' appears in front of the name of the grain, like “whole wheat” or “wholemeal bread”. • For foods with more than one ingredient, make sure whole grain is listed towards the top of the ingredients list. The further up the list it is, the more whole grain has been used in the recipe. And look out for the percentage of whole grain. You should find this in the ingredients list too.
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.