Are you getting enough whole grains?


The Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) conducted an unpublished study, which found that only 30 per cent of Australians are meeting the whole grain recommendations for good health1. However, global research2 into whole grain consumption has suggested that Australia is doing better than many countries, although we still have a long way to go to meet the amount of whole grain needed for good health.

Three serves of whole grain a day are recommended for a lower risk of chronic disease and better health outcomes, but in Australia, just one in three people meets this target. Whilst Australia is doing much better than the
UK – where just 17 per cent of people meet targets and the US where only 8 per cent eat enough whole grain² – we’re still not doing nearly as well as countries like Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Residents in these countries typically consume twice as much whole grain as the average Australian and are likely to experience fewer instances of chronic disease as a result.

But although 70 per cent of Australians are falling short of the whole grain recommendation, there are plenty of opportunities to choose whole grain foods more often and increase your whole grain intake. In fact, the average Australian only needs an increase of just 1.5 serves of whole grain a day to meet the recommended three serves and reap the significant health benefits of higher whole grain intake. This could be as simple as swapping the white bread in your sandwich for a wholemeal variety, or switching a serve of white rice with your dinner for brown rice.

Choosing whole grain foods is important as it increases your intake of fibre and essential nutrients, as well as reducing risk of diabetes and heart disease by 20 to 30 per cent. Two out of three Australians would benefit from changing their habits by making at least half their grain food choices whole grain and looking for foods higher in whole grain.

With increasing innovation in the whole grain category, it’s easier than ever to choose foods higher in whole grain, but industry faces a significant challenge for communication of whole grain content, both on pack and in product marketing, due to a lack of regulation on whole grain content claims.

Currently, the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code doesn’t regulate the use of whole grain content claims on different foods. So products making whole grain claims can contain differing amounts of whole grain, some breads for example may vary from 6g of whole grain per serve right up to 60g per serve.

So how can we reduce confusion around whole grains?

In 2013, to help reduce the confusion around whole grains, the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) launched the Code of Practice for Whole Grain Ingredient Content Claims