“Wholegrain” is a word that describes a cereal that has not had the outside parts of the grain removed, or a cereal product made from such grains. Many cereals (cereals include wheat, rice, barley, oats, and related foods) are often eaten after they have been refined as part of the manufacturing process, to remove the outside of the grain. This changes the properties of the grain, including texture and taste, and over the past century this has become the usual form in which we come across them – white flour, white bread, white rice, and so on. But refining the grain also removes nutritionally valuable components – some nutrients and, in particular, dietary fibre. This means that refined starchy foods tend to be higher in calories (per unit weight), easier to eat quickly or to eat too much of, and can raise blood sugar levels too quickly, as well as not providing as much of the valuable nutrients.

Dietary fibre is a broad term that describes the parts of plant foods that aren’t completely digested in the small bowel and reach the large bowel, where they are fermented by the normal bacteria that live there. This fermentation produces useful nutrients and other products that help keep the bowel healthy. Wholegrain foods (as well as pulses and vegetables and fruit) are rich sources of dietary fibre. Pulses (sometimes called legumes) are foods such as peas, beans, chick peas, and lentils, and can be used in a wide range of different menu items.