Havregryn. Foto: Colourbox

Whole grains play an important role in a healthy and plant-rich diet

Food, fish and agriculture Nutrition and dietary habits
That whole-grain products are an important part of a healthy, sustainable and plant-rich diet is shown by a scientific assessment prepared by DTU National Food Institute for The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. Additionally, grain products are among the foods with the lowest climate footprint.

The need to eat a varied diet is probably not a surprise to anyone. Researchers from DTU National Food Institute state in a scientific assessment that a varied intake of cereal grain products, and especially whole-grain products, is an important part of a healthy and plant-rich diet.

To vary the intake of whole-grain products, you can eat rye bread with or without seeds, whole-grain wheat bread, oatmeal, muesli, porridge of millet or barley, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, bulgur and couscous.

The assessment answers, among other things, questions about what amount of whole grain is related to health benefits in a northern European food culture, what amount of whole grain is needed in a Danish plant-rich diet to reach the Nordic recommendations for nutrient density and how large an intake of whole grain is realistic in the Danish food culture.

One of the conclusions is that an appropriate amount of cereal grain products is between 300 and 400 g per day for adults, while an appropriate amount of whole-grain products is between 150 and 250 g, depending on the type of whole-grain product. This means that at least half of the intake of cereal grain products should be whole-grain products.

An advantage for both health and climate

A higher intake of whole grain is associated with a lower risk of several noncommunicable diseases and mortality. However, other advantages are connected to cereal grain products as well. Besides contributing to energy, all cereal grain products contribute e.g., protein and selenium. Whole-grain products also contain dietary fiber, iron and zinc - and especially whole-grain products containing seeds contribute n-3 fatty acids.

Not only do whole-grain products contribute to a lower risk of disease and mortality, but they are also among the food products with the lowest climate footprint. Therefore, cereal grain products - and especially whole-grain products - are advantageous for both health and climate.

Read more

You can read more about the scientific assessment from DTU National Food Institute in the memo Scientific background for updating the recommendation for whole-grain intake (pdf).

The scientific assessment has been carried out at the request of The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration.