What is a wholegrain?

The popularity of whole grains has increased significantly in recent times – and for good reason too. Research has shown that regular consumption of wholegrain foods may offer protection against heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even some cancers

With greater awareness of the role diet plays in the development of these chronic lifestyle diseases, consumers are seeking healthier alternatives when shopping and eating out. As a result, food manufacturers and retailers continue to expand their “wholegrain” food offerings. What used to be a simple choice between white, brown, or grain bread, however, has now become a complex and often confusing decision. Which of these wholegrain products are best? How many of these wholegrain options are, in fact, made with whole grains?

Well, Food Standard Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) provide a definition for the term ‘wholegrain’ to promote a standardised approach to food product labeling. A wholegrain food, by their definition is one that uses “every part of the grain - including the outer layers, bran and germ… even if these parts are separated during processing and regardless of whether the grain is in one piece or milled into smaller pieces”. 

To make things a little clearer, the term wholegrain refers to:

* FSANZ outlines that “wholemeal applies to foods in which the whole grains have been refined into finer particles. This gives manufacturers the option of describing their foods as either wholegrain or wholemeal to avoid misleading the customer.”

When shopping for wholegrain products:

But be aware, colours can be misleading too. Foods like breads, pasta, rice, and tortillas that are dark in color may not be 100% wholegrain foods. And, some lighter coloured grain foods may be 100% wholegrain foods - such as 100% white whole wheat bread. To be sure a food is a wholegrain food, check the ingredients using the tips above.

The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider, such as an Accredited Practicing Dietitian, before making significant changes to your diet, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or specific dietary requirements. Nutritional needs can vary greatly from person to person, and individual health circumstances may require personalised dietary recommendations.