Get Back into Carbs With These Whole Grains

Get Back into Carbs With These Whole Grains

Carbohydrates have been unfairly vilified over the last twenty years. Every fad diet from Atkins to South Beach to Paleo places glucose squarely in the middle of its cross-hairs. This aversion to starch isn’t altogether unfounded. Thanks to GMO wheat farms and the mass production of bleached grain, the vast majority of carbohydrates in the American diet are the bad kind of carbohydrates. The white flour products that line the halls of your nearest grocery store pack all the glycemic index busting punch without any of the off-setting benefits of whole grains. In other words, Atkins works because it eliminates these empty calories, not because all carbohydrates are evil.

Thankfully, all carbohydrates are not created equal. The best ones, in fact, aren’t created at all. They’re grown in gardens and picked straight out of the ground. As a general rule of thumb, the fewer number of steps it takes to get from soil to plate the healthier the grain. In nature, a grain is comprised of three parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bleaching process removes the bran and the germ, resulting in a soft, aesthetically appealing white grain with a longer shelf life. Unfortunately, it also eliminates the vast majority of the grain’s natural nutrients in the process. Whole grains are called “whole” because they include the bran, which is rich in antioxidants and fiber, and the germ, which is rich in B vitamins and essential minerals.

Commercial food producers believe that whole grains are less attractive to consumers. They’re more difficult to use in mass-produced baked goods and their natural oils cause them to go rancid in a shorter amount of time. Because of these long held consumer aversions, over 90% of the wheat produced in the United States each year is destined for processing. White flour has become ubiquitous in the American diet. The challenge of identifying the healthiest grains at the supermarket and incorporating them into your cooking has led many diets to recommend simply abandoning carbohydrates altogether. With the right information, however, there’s no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Carbohydrates are a necessary food group—just like fats and proteins. A human being cannot survive on one or even two nutrient groups alone. It’s the proper balance of the three that leads to wellness. So stop depriving yourself of nature’s bounty and turn to these nutrient-packed whole grains for all your bready cravings.

Whole Wheat

This one is a no-brainer. Throw away all of that white flour sitting in the back of your pantry and replace it with a heaping sack of brown, whole grain flour. Other wheat products like bread and pasta can also be replaced with whole grain versions. Whole grain pasta is a delicious alternative to standard noodles. It’s just as simple to make, and all that extra fiber will help you feel full after one serving. You’ll actually end up consuming fewer calories. There is one important caveat here: make sure you’re buying 100% whole wheat products. Even 90% whole wheat products experience significant nutrient loss during processing. Beware of terms like “multigrain” as well as they often indicate the use of multiple processed grains.

Whole Oats/Steel-Cut Oats

Remember that rule about counting the steps from soil to plate? Apply it here. Oats are generally sold in three different forms. Instant oats, rolled oats and steel cut oats. Steel cut oats are the most “whole” of all the oat products. They’re picked from the ground, cut and packaged as is: bran, germ and endosperm. They take a little longer to prepare and result in a lumpier bowl of oatmeal, but you get the added benefit of the natural fiber and other nutrients. Rolled oats are steel cut oats rolled flat during processing. This makes them easier to cook, but results in minor nutrient loss. Never eat instant oatmeal again. Instant oatmeal products are stripped of virtually all nutrient content during processing and often laden with dangerous and caloric chemicals like high fructose corn syrup.

Quinoa

Often dubbed the miracle grain, quinoa is almost exclusively sold in its whole grain form. Aside from being an excellent source of vitamins and fiber, whole quinoa is actually a complete protein, as well. That’s right. A single serving of quinoa contains every essential amino acid that your body needs to function, including the elusive lysine.


 

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 



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