Eat Your Grains!

By / Magazine / January 25th, 2011 / 2

According to a survey recently commissioned by Dempsters, only 10% of us are getting enough grain products in our diet. The worst part? Most of us think we’re getting too much. Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating six to eight servings of grains – such as bread, rice and oats – for a healthy diet. At least half of that should be whole grains.

“Grains, and more specifically, whole grains have proven health benefits,” states registered dietitian Jean LaMantia. “Not only are they an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals, but people who eat more whole grains tend to have a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and digestive issues. And for those of us watching our intake, whole grains can help with weight management as you feel full longer.”

Yes, Canadians Are Grain Deprived

It’s a fact: Canadians of all ages do not get their daily whole grain servings. Find out who is close to the recommended six to eight mark and what food faves Canadians would hate to give up to trim their

Whole Grain Gurus: Twenty-five to 34-year olds lead the charge with 15 per cent hitting the recommended servings per day mark. Yet, the numbers steadily decrease with age: 34 to 44 (5%); 45 to 54 (8%); 55 to 64 (4%).

Coast-to-Coast Whole Grains: Atlantic Canadians and Ontarians rank #1 for whole grain consumption (10%), followed closely by Quebec and British Columbia (9%). Alberta (6%) and Manitoba and Saskatchewan (5%) sit in third and forth place respectively.

Battle of the Sexes: When it comes to whole grains, seems Mars outranks Venus as men eat more whole grain products (12%) than their female counterparts (6%)!

Chocolate or Bread? But when it comes to losing a pound or two, Canadians would rather cut out chocolate (26%) than their daily bread (31%). And for women looking to shed a couple pounds, they would hate to give up bread and chocolate, neck-and-neck at 29 per cent, followed by pasta (25%), then potato chips (16%). Canadian men rank bread (32%) as number one, with pasta (26%), chocolate (22%) and potato chips (18%) following in short order.

Yet despite the statistics, more than eight out of ten Canadians agree that carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, rice, cereal and oats are healthy – so what’s holding us back from getting our recommended six to eight servings every day?

“Healthy carbs are essential to overall health at every stage of life yet fad diets and misinformation have swayed people’s views on these important sources of essential nutrients,” says LaMantia. “It’s not about avoiding or tracking certain foods – for example more than 45 per cent of us track our daily consumption of bread – it’s about educating ourselves on how to choose the right carbs, such as whole grain pasta or bread. Whether it’s disease prevention, weight loss, or just eating better, adding whole grains to your daily routine will have a positive impact.”

Not All Grains are Created Equal

A whole grain is when all three parts of the grain are present, these include: the bran (outer layer providing fibre, B-vitamins and minerals), the germ (food for the seed that’s full of B-vitamins, vitamin E and minerals), and the endosperm (inner layer of the seed supplying energy and protein). For the average Canadian, this level of information is a lot to digest and many don’t know where to start.

“As a busy mother and dietitian I know eating healthy doesn’t just happen but getting six to eight servings per day doesn’t have to be a daunting task,” advises LaMantia. “Simple adjustments, such as oatmeal at breakfast, sandwiches on whole grain bread, and brown rice at dinner, can have a big impact. The key is choosing foods made with ‘whole grains’ – this ensures the entire grain is baked in, providing you key nutrients like fibre and disease-lowering antioxidants.”


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