When you wander down a supermarket bread or cereal aisle, have you ever wondered what ‘Wholegrain’ means? Well wonder no more. This article explains what it is and why you should care about it.
Wheat is a grain crop that we used to make things like bread and cereal. The wheat grain is made up of three parts: the bran, the endosperm and the germ.
As you can see, each layer of the grain adds it’s own benefits, from Fibre (which helps you to feel fuller for longer), to Vitamin E (which helps maintain your cells structure by protecting cell membranes).
But not all grains are processed equally…
When wheat is turned into flour for products like bread the flour can either be ‘Refined’ or left as ‘Wholemeal’. The refined flour undergoes a series of treatments that strips the bran and germ, taking a significant portion of the fibre, protein and vitamins that naturally occur, with them.
Originally chose for it’s milder flavour and lighter texture, this type of processed grain is usually referred to as ‘White Flour’. White flour is the type used in most white breads, pastas and pastries.
When wholemeal is made, the layers of the wheat grain are left intact and so the nutritional value of the grain has remained the same. This results in a slightly heavier and stronger tasting product.
One last twist…
In recent years, grain producers have managed to create wheat plants that have a lighter flavour without the need for processing. This has given rise to the ‘best-of-both’ ranges of bread products.
This grain has no significant gap in nutrition to traditional wholegrain (as the whole of the grain is still used). However, it is usually more expensive (due to high demand) and it’s definitely worth reading the label to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want!