Importance of Grains and Cereals

Grains and cereals are an essential food group in our diet, as they provide us with a good proportion of our energy requirements and nutrients.

This food group provides our bodies with an abundance of high quality nutrients such as: carbohydrates, protein, fibre, B vitamins, vitamin E, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, riboflavin, thiamin and zinc. Grains used in this food group are comprised of three main parts:

  • Bran: the grain’s outer layer (fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and dietary minerals)
  • Endosperm: the main part of the grain (mainly starch)
  • Germ: the smallest part of the grain (vitamin E, folate, thiamine, phosphorus, magnesium)

Wholegrains contain all three layers of the grain, whereas white alternatives only contain the starchy endosperm.

It has been suggested that less than half of us are eating enough quality wholegrain foods, instead choosing to overindulge in refined grains and cereals. These refined, overly processed foods generally have a higher glycaemic index (GI), giving the body a short and sharp burst of energy. Therefore, low GI whole grains are much more beneficial to the body, as they are released into the bloodstream more slowly, which keeps you feeling more sustained and energised for longer.


The grains and cereals food group can be broken down into [four sub-groups]:

  • Breads: wholemeal, wholegrain, white, rye, pita, lavash, naan, focaccia, crisp breads and damper.
  • Breakfast cereals: high fibre (wholegrain) oats, porridge, muesli and wholewheat biscuits.
  • Grains: rice, barley, corn, polenta, buckwheat, spelt, millet, sorghum, triticale, rye, quinoa and semolina.
  • Other: pasta, noodles, English muffin, crumpet, rice cakes, couscous, bulgur, popcorn and flour.

It is also important to be aware of the recommended number of servings for different life stages. During adulthood, the general rule is 4–6 serves daily, while during childhood and adolescence the recommendations are highly dependent on their age and sex. In addition, it is also beneficial to understand what a serving size actually is to ensure you are not under- or over-consuming the grains and cereals food group.

In addition to assisting with general bodily functions, grains and cereals can also reduce your risk of certain diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and colon cancer. Having a high fibre content means that wholegrains and cereals helps to maintain a healthy digestive system, and can be utilised to prevent constipation.

Wholegrains have also been associated with weight loss, due to their lower GI. This shows that consuming a diet that contains an abundance and variety of wholegrains is imperative to a happy and healthy body.


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