Carbs…carbs and more carbs! We need them! We’re supposed to have them! Why are we afraid?
If I had a dollar for every person I convinced to re-introduce healthy, whole grain carbohydrate choices back into their diet, I would be a wealthy dietitian! Our media blitzed society, combined with the multi-billion dollar diet industry has brainwashed people into being scared of grains!
Why do we need them? Our body’s preferred source of fuel is glucose (glycogen is the stored form). Everything we eat, eventually gets broken down into glucose for use/stored energy. Carbohydrates break down most easily into glucose; however, fat and protein also eventually end up in that format! Glucose is what fuels our brain, it’s our main source of energy for daily living and exercise, not to mention the important nutrients we get from carbohydrates (fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, iron and vitamin E)! Many people are aware of the important antioxidants and phytochemicals that are found in our fruit and vegetables; however, whole grains are also a great source of these nutrients!
Why are they important? Whole grains have been linked to all kinds of health benefits! Studies have shown they help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels and improving blood pressure. High fibre diets are also linked to reduced risks of many types of cancers. Whole grains have also been shown to regulate blood glucose levels in diabetics. Recent studies have shown that people who consume more whole grains on a regular basis, consistently weigh less than those who consume fewer whole grain choices.
Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends choosing at least half of your grain servings as whole grain choices. That translates into 3-4 servings daily of whole grains for most of us! A whole grain contains all three parts of the grain–the bran, the germ and the endosperm. Look for “whole grain” on the ingredient list to ensure you are choosing a whole grain product–i.e. whole grain whole wheat!
How can we incorporate more whole grains?
- Choose whole grain breads, pastas and crackers instead of white flour products
- Substitute half of the white flour in recipes with whole wheat flour instead
- Snack on popcorn (a whole grain!) instead of high fat potato chips
- Include brown rice or barley in your homemade soup recipes
- Experiment with new side dishes–quinoa, millet, wild rice pilafs, rye breads and more!
- Instead of refined bread crumbs, use oatmeal, flax or bran flakes in homemade hamburger patties or while breading fish!
So, the moral of the story is to eat your whole grains! Watch your portion size, look for for the word “whole” on the ingredient list and experiment with new forms of whole grains! ENJOY! Your body will thank you for it!