Asia looks to whole grains

Monday 18 June, 2018

Whole grain foods are set to become more popular in Australia’s key export markets as Asian diets continue to evolve.

AEGIC CEO Richard Simonaitis said Whole Grain Week (18-25 June) was a timely opportunity to shine a light on the changing demographics in Asia.

“While refined grain foods such as noodles, white rice and white baked goods are still the norm in most Asian countries, consumer attitudes are evolving and we will likely see increasing interest in the nutritional benefits of whole grain foods in the coming years,” he said.

“Consumers of whole grain products tend to be affluent and health conscious and this is a demographic that is growing in many Asian countries.”

According to the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC), health issues are increasing  in Asia. 60% of global diabetes occurs in the region, with risk factors including diets low in whole grains. Three serves of whole grain per day reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart attack and stroke.

Mr Simonaitis said healthy Australian grains could find themselves with new markets as diets change, including wheat, oats, barley and pulses.

A good example of a market with evolving tastes is China, where Australian oats already have strong brand recognition. An AEGIC project is currently investigating the potential for increasing the value of Australian oats in nutritional products such as oat “rice” and oat noodles.

What are whole grains?

Grains are made of three major components.

Bran

This is the outer skin of the grain kernel and contains lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre.

Germ

The germ is the embryo inside the grain which would sprout (germinate) into a new plant if given the chance. It also contains lots of nutritional benefits.

Endosperm

The endosperm is the “white” part of the grain and makes up most of the grain. It contains starchy carbohydrates, proteins and smaller amounts of vitamins and minerals.

During the wheat milling process, the bran and germ are removed, leaving the endosperm to be crushed and refined into clean, white flour. Whole grain flour has the bran and germ still present.

Some examples of whole grains other than wheat include brown rice, rye, oats, barley, buckwheat, quinoa and others.

The nutritional benefits of whole grains are well documented by organisations such as the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC).

Read more from GLNC!