Beyond the Bread AislePosted: June 15, 2012 in Healthy Eating by Craig Primack MD FACP
Three nutritious whole grains that dispel the “carbs are bad” philosophy
The low-carb movement, gluten-free, the paleo diet—many modern dieting trends have one major enemy in common: carbohydrates. These diet movements have created a whole generation of health-conscious eaters who are generally apprehensive about grains, seeing anything starchy as something to be avoided. Though this assumption may be correct about carbs like bagels and muffins, which equate to about half a loaf of bread each, this black and white thinking about carbohydrates has caused many people to miss out on what can be an important part of every person’s diet.
As you work toward your weight loss goals in Scottsdale and Chandler, it’s time to lift the outright ban that many who try to lose weight have placed on carbs. Yes, many processed and conventional sources of grains are unhealthy, but whole grain sources eaten in moderation are often packed with nutrients and fiber and are low in calories and fat. They also have a tendency to make you feel full more quickly, helping you avoid overeating by providing more satisfaction with each meal.
Many Americans do not eat enough whole grains and may be missing out on important sources of many nutrients. Perhaps this is because some of the best sources of whole grains, which pack the biggest nutritional punch in the smallest package, are relatively uncommon in America. If you’re one of the many people in our country who have avoided grains like the plague, it’s time to reevaluate the way you look at carbs by trying some of these more unconventional whole grain sources. Forget about whole wheat bread and pasta—these grains are far more nutritious and will spice up your diet with some interesting new flavors.
Quinoa. Commonly labeled a grain, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is actually a seed that relates more closely to leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It has long been recognized as an excellent energy source and is a native of South America, where it was once known as the “gold of the Incas”. As it turns out, these ancient people were onto something. In addition to having high levels of fiber and nutrients like manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and folate, quinoa has the unique distinction of containing all nine essential amino acids, giving it a complete protein profile. This makes it perfect for vegetarians concerned with low protein intake, while it is also completely gluten-free.
Barley. A cereal grain with a rich, nutty flavor, barley is commonly used as an ingredient in beer and other alcoholic beverages, but few take full advantage of its versatility in their diets. A perfect ingredient to add some flavor and nutrients to any soup or stew, barley can also be ground into flour to make a variety of different baked goods. Though you may see “pearled” barley at the store, this kind removes the hull of the grain, diminishing its nutritional value and fiber content. For best results, find hulled barley, which contains a great deal of dietary fiber, selenium, copper, manganese and phosphorus.
Brown rice. Though perhaps more common in the States than the above two grains, brown rice has a vastly superior nutritional profile compared to its white cousin. Converting brown rice into white removes all of the grain’s dietary fiber and fatty acids, 67 percent of its vitamin B3, 80 percent of its vitamin B1, 60 percent of its iron, 90 percent of its vitamin B6 and 50 percent of its manganese and phosphorus. As a result, simply switching to brown rice will provide you with a great source of all these nutrients, while the texture and flavor are more interesting as well.
If you think carbs are bad, you may not be eating the right ones. By adding whole grains like the above to your diet, you can enjoy all the nutritional benefits of whole grains without the high calorie levels found in common American carbs. You may just have to look a little further than the bread aisle to find them.