I am
Wholegrains and heart health
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Wholegrains and heart health

All you need to know about wholegrains to put you on the right track

Key takeaways

  • Wholegrains are foods that use the whole grain, like wholegrain bread, wholemeal pasta and oats. 
  • Eating wholegrains can help lower your risk of heart disease.
  • ​The fibre in wholegrains can help reduce and regulate your cholesterol.  
  • Swapping refined grains for wholegrain foods can improve your heart health. 
3 min read

You might have heard that wholegrains are part of a healthy diet, but what are they? And why are they essential to your health? 

There are a lot of choices when buying a loaf of bread or box of cereal. Plus, the information on the packaging can be hard to understand. 

Learning more about wholegrain foods will help you know what to value and what to prioritise. 

Here’s all you need to know about wholegrains to put you on the right track.

Types of grains 

The term ‘grains’ usually includes: 

  • Wheat 
  • Corn (maize) 
  • Rice 
  • Barley 
  • Oats 
  • Rye  
  • Millet 
  • Quinoa 
  • Teff.  

These grains can be eaten whole or made into products like couscous (wheat) and polenta (corn). Bread, breakfast cereals, pasta, and noodles are also made from different types of grains. 

The terms ‘wholegrain’ or ‘refined grain’ refers to how processed the grains are. Opting for wholegrains instead of refined grains can help improve your heart health. 

What are wholegrains? 

Wholegrains are foods that include all three parts of the grain: bran, germ and endosperm.  

Wholegrain foods are less processed and therefore contain more fibre and vitamins and minerals than other grain foods.  

Examples of wholegrains include: 

  • Brown rice 
  • Wholemeal flour 
  • Oats 
  • Wholegrain bread 
  • Popcorn 
  • Buckwheat. 

Refined grains, on the other hand, are more processed and some of the grain is removed. These grains contain less fibre, vitamins and minerals, making them a less healthy option.  

Examples of refined grains include: 

  • White rice 
  • White bread 
  • Pasta  
  • Processed breakfast cereals  
  • White flour.  

What are the health benefits of wholegrains? 

Replacing refined grains in your diet with wholegrains can be good for your heart. 

The fibre in wholegrain foods can help reduce LDL cholesterol (known as bad cholesterol), and this can lower your risk of heart disease.  

As a bonus, the fibre in wholegrains also helps you feel fuller for longer, which can help with weight management. 

Wholegrain food swaps 

Eating more wholegrains doesn’t have to be hard. Try these deliciously simple swaps in your meals to help improve your heart health. 

Swap this  

For this

White rice 

Brown rice 

White bread 

Wholegrain bread  

White flour 

Wholemeal flour  

Highly processed breakfast cereal 

Oats  

Water crackers 

Wholegrain crackers 

 




Make small changes for a big impact 

Making simple swaps to your breakfast, lunch and dinner can be an easy way to help take better care of your heart. The first step is identifying any refined grains you eat regularly and swapping them out for their wholegrain alternative. 


Discover a range of heart healthy recipes

You might also be interested in

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

One the easiest steps you can take to prevent high blood pressure is choosing healthy foods....

Tasty recipes to start the day | Breakfast Recipe Booklet

Tasty recipes to start the day | Breakfast Recipe Booklet

Tasty recipes to start the day | Breakfast Recipe Booklet

Have an easy and delicious start to your day. Get your free copy now....

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

Getting the right balance of fats in your diet can improve your heart health....

Chimichurri sauce

Chimichurri sauce

Chimichurri sauce

5 minutes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Search all of our heart healthy recipes ...

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Eating healthy foods can help you recover and reduce your risk of more heart problems. ...

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Lower your cholesterol, whether you're eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or even a snack....

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Not all dairy products are equal. Discover different types of dairy foods and their impact on heart health....

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Check out our recipe categories to find your next heart healthy meal....

Looking for that perfect gift?

Looking for that perfect gift?

Looking for that perfect gift?

Make a donation to our Christmas Appeal on behalf of a family member or a loved one and receive a personalised eCard to let them know....

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Christmas Appeal

Christmas Appeal

Christmas Appeal

Make a donation to our Christmas Appeal on behalf of a family member or a loved one and receive a personalised eCard to let them know....

What is atrial fibrillation?

What is atrial fibrillation?

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia where your heart beats irregularly and fast....

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Find heart healthy Italian recipes....

Christmas recipes

Christmas recipes

Christmas recipes

Find heart healthy festive recipes. ...

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Search through our vegetarian recipes...

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

Resources for healthcare professionals on the management of patients with heart failure ...

What is coronary heart disease?

What is coronary heart disease?

What is coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease occurs when a coronary artery clogs and narrows because of a buildup of plaque....

Tex Mex chicken burgers

Tex Mex chicken burgers

Tex Mex chicken burgers

10 minutes
Serves 2

Nicoise salad

Nicoise salad

Nicoise salad

10 minutes
Serves 6

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Information and resources for healthcare professionals....

Atrial fibrillation resources for patients

Atrial fibrillation resources for patients

For professionals: Cardiovascular disease risk assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 

For professionals: Cardiovascular disease risk assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 

Recommendations for assessing Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ...

24-hour Blood Pressure Monitoring

24-hour Blood Pressure Monitoring

Blood pressure monitoring at home using a 24-hour blood pressure monitor test....

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Thankfully for Grant Byrne, a lifelong Led Zeppelin fan, some quick thinking helped him avoid a stairway to heaven. Read Grant’s heart attack story now. ...

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Kate wanted to find a way she could make a difference to future generations...

Heart Health Network

Heart Health Network

Heart Health Network

Heart Health Network is the Heart Foundation’s newsletter for health professionals delivered to your inbox once a month....

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease....

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Tahini tofu dressing

Tahini tofu dressing

Tahini tofu dressing

2022 Collaboration and Exchange Award

2022 Collaboration and Exchange Award

Q&A with Lauren Blekkenhorst

Q&A with Lauren Blekkenhorst

Q&A with Lauren Blekkenhorst

Research to develop better evidence for the vascular and metabolic health benefits of vegetables and their bioactive constituents....

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

How to boost your fruit and vegetable intake to help protect your heart. ...

Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance

Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance

Alliance with chronic disease prevention stakeholders...

Q&A with Dr Jennifer Browne

Q&A with Dr Jennifer Browne

Food and Nutrition Policy for First Nations peoples – translating evidence into action...

How to keep your heart healthy habits rolling all year round

How to keep your heart healthy habits rolling all year round

How to keep your heart healthy habits rolling all year round

Heart failure resources for patients

Heart failure resources for patients

Educate your patients on everything they need to know about heart failure and managing their condition ...

Strategic Grants

Strategic Grants

Strategic Grants aim to generate innovative and collaborative research in the areas of identified knowledge gaps or those deemed to be priorities of the Heart Foundation. ...

Your heart is your most important tool

Your heart is your most important tool

Your heart is your most important tool

Men’s Health Week is the perfect time to think about your heart....