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What do popcorn and brown rice have in common? Drumroll please... they’re both wholegrain products!

Yes, it’s time to rethink the tired notion that wholegrains are bland and boring, or that you’re limited to only brown rice and oatmeal.

With the increasing popularity of healthy eating, there are plenty of yummy wholegrain options for everybody — from pau to chapatti.

Let’s look at why wholegrains are good for us, and how we can get more wholegrains in our diet.

What Are Wholegrains?

Wholegrains are whole seeds (also called “kernels”) that are made up of three nutrient-packed parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.

In comparison, refined grains like white rice and refined flour are stripped of one or more of these parts, and are thus less nutritious.

Why Choose Wholegrains?

Wholegrains are nutrient-powerhouses: they’re rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and fibre. These nutrients can help lower blood cholesterol and reduce risk of diseases such as diabetes.

Wholegrains can help with weight management: they’re high in fibre, which adds bulk to your diet and helps you feel full. This way, you’re less likely to overeat during meals or feel peckish between meals.

Wholegrains are tasty: they add texture and a subtle, nutty flavour to food.

Let’s Get Granular

Here are some easy ways to add wholegrains to your daily diet.

Grocery Grains

Wholegrain imposters 

A super simple way to find wholegrain products at the supermarket would be to keep a look out for the “Higher in wholegrains” Healthier Choice Symbol. You’ll see the symbol on products like brown, red, or purple rice, wholegrain noodles, bread and even pau.

And expand your definition of wholegrains: some not-so-common ingredients to add to your shopping list would be barley, millet, quinoa, and spelt.

Tip for Savvy Shoppers

Read the ingredient list: for wholegrain products, ingredients with the word “whole” (e.g. whole wheat, whole oats) should ideally be listed first or second.

Recipe Renaissance

Make wholegrains exciting by trying out new recipes. For example, make D-I-Y popcorn. Movie stand popcorn is high in sugar and fat, but you can easily pop your own popcorn at home, and season it with zesty herbs and spices.

Try This Out

Add olive oil and curry powder to popcorn, then give the mixture a toss. Perfect for “Netflix and chew”.

Or remix recipes: instead of brown rice as your daily wholegrain component, give your dish a Japanese twist with buckwheat soba. Or add a nutty fragrance and pleasant chewiness with black glutinous rice — the same rice used in pulut hitam.

Grains on the Go

When dining out, keep your eyes peeled for eateries and food court stalls that sport the “We offer wholegrain options” decal — this means they serve wholegrain options such as brown rice, brown rice bee hoon, or wholegrain chapatti.

Sow the Seeds

Not sure where to begin? Start small — try wholegrain cereal for breakfast, or replace half your white rice with brown rice. Get used to the flavours and textures of wholegrain, then tantalise your taste buds with bolder options!

Learn more about wholegrains in this video: