Whole Grain Goodness

22nd Apr 2015
Whole Grain Goodness

Whole grains have hit the headlines again as new research suggests that eating lots of this natural food type may help people live longer. Whole grains are grains that still contain the endosperm, bran and germ – most of the plant’s nutritional value lies in the bran and germ. Whole grains may seem complex, but why children should eat them is simple! Whole grains are loaded with nutrients like B vitamins, minerals and fibre, all necessary for children’s development. Eating whole grains in childhood leads to habits that provide long term health benefits which is why, two years ago, Kids 1st introduced more whole grains into our menus

In summer 2013 Kids 1st began to offer more whole grains throughout our menus including whole grain cereals and popcorn along with brown rice and whole wheat pasta. We made this change as whole grains contain as many protective antioxidants as fruits and vegetables. They also provide some unique antioxidants not found in other foods. Antioxidants have a number of health benefits including better resistance to colds & flu, relief from allergies, improved sleep and better concentration.

Benefits of Whole Wheat Pasta
Nutritionally speaking, whole wheat pasta is much healthier than white as it is full of fibre and contains vitamin E, B6, zinc and folic acid. Fibre plays an important role in supporting a healthy digestive system and it helps keep the body’s system clean and running smoothly. It also keeps you feeling full for a long time which can prevent overeating

Benefits of Brown Rice
Before white rice went through the refining process it looked exactly like brown rice. When milling brown rice, just the first outer layer (husk or hull) is removed. It still retains its fibre and the germ which contains many of the most vital nutrients including calcium, magnesium and potassium. White rice, on the other hand, has the outer layers of bran and germ removed so it is less nutritious.

Three reasons why we love brown rice:
1. Whole Grain
Brown rice is considered a whole grain since it hasn’t lost its ‘wholeness’ through the refinement process. Whole grains are proven to reduce the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.

2. Rich in Anti-Oxidants
We usually associate anti-oxidant rich foods with blueberries, strawberries and other fruits and vegetables; however, brown rice contains as many antioxidants as these super stars.

3. Perfect Baby Food
Brown rice cereal, or brown rice itself, is perfect as baby’s first food due to the dense natural nutrition and fibre it contains. It is a much better choice than refined white rice cereal
products as rapidly growing babies and toddlers require nutrient rich diets to help maintain rapid growth cycles.

Eating More Whole Grains
Exposing children to whole grains at an early age sets the foundation to a healthy eating lifestyle. The problem is that, usually, kids eat too many refined grains such as white bread, flour tortillas and white rice. The easiest way to get children to eat more whole grains is by substituting these refined grain foods for whole grain alternatives.  At first, you may want to mix refined and whole grains until they get used to the taste.

You can also help your kids eat more whole grains by:
– cooking and baking with more whole wheat flour or oats, instead of white flour
– looking for foods with whole grain ingredients, such as barley vegetable soup
– adding whole grains to bread, homemade soup, etc.
– adding oats to yogurt
– looking for recipes that use whole grains

To find out more, please contact our Head of Catering, Sean McArdle, seanm@hmcgl.co.uk