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Advice Column: Is There a Place for Grains in a Healthy Diet?

September 19, 2013 by  


By Noor H. Salem

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Question: I’m trying to eat healthier and heard from a friend that I should cut out all carbohydrates from my diet. Is this true?

Answer:

Cutting out carbohydrates is definitely not the path to a healthier lifestyle. Your friend is partially correct that you should cut out carbohydrates, but only some of them. Processed cookies, cakes, breads with seventy ingredients, and basically all food with bleached flour should not be in your diet. We see loaf bread that says “whole grain” on the front in a fancy red bubble. In reality though, the ingredient list tells a different story. The majority of breads are made with bleached flour, preservatives, and a ton of chemicals to keep it fluffy, “fresh”, and white. These foods are empty calories; basically, they fill you up on calories without being nutrient-dense.

Instead, you want to include healthy carbohydrates like whole wheat/grain flours, organic quinoa, cracked wheat, organic brown rice, and other healthy grain alternatives.  Eating whole grains is actually essential for long term vitality. Whole grains have fiber, essential b-vitamins, and magnesium.

If you have celiac disease, that’s an entirely different story. You obviously want to avoid anything with gluten or wheat, so do be wary of that.

Read your packages right. Anything that says “enriched flour” is not whole grain. The grain in this case has been processed and stripped of many nutrients. Don’t forget there is an entire bleaching method taking place with conventional flour, so avoid that frequently.

To sum up my recommendation: pass up anything that’s processed but don’t completely omit your carbohydrates.  It’s a matter of knowing good from bad, and going from there.

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