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Are carbs our enemy?

Are carbs our enemy? (Enlarge)

Carbohydrates are the body's main energy source and are imperative for efficient brain functioning. In fact, over 50% of our calories intake is supposed to come from carbs.

Ranging from rice in the east to wheat in the west, grains are a dominant component in our nutrition. They are a source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and of course carbs.

Carbs found in grains contain vitamins, minerals and nutritional fibers. The problem starts when grains are processed, leaving them without the shell and spout which are rich with vital components:

• Vitamin B (mainly B1, B2 and B6) imperative to creating energy in the cell, the metabolism of carbs,

  fats and proteins and the functioning of the nervous system.
 Vitamin E – antioxidant, essential for muscles, nerves, the immune system and healing wounds.
 Nutritional fibers – nutritional fibers hardly dissolve in the digestive system and therefore add calories,

   yet also offer a variety of desired scientifically proven health benefits such as:
  o Lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  o Lowering general cholesterol and triglycerides – which decreases the risk of cardiac and

     vascular diseases
  o Some research show a decrease in the risk of colon cancer
  o Preventing constipation and diverticulosis  

Non-processed nutritionals fibers are mainly responsible for these effects while on the other hand a high consumption of processed fibers might have the reverse result: slowing down disassembling of carbs into sugar followed by the blood sugar level quickly rising and then quickly drop, increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Imbalance in blood sugar levels is associated with mood swings and ADD.

The obvious superiority of whole grains compared to processed grains has led to a widespread recommendation of replacing all types of processed grains with whole grains – in rice, bread, pasta, cereal and more. This is the place to mention another important principle in a balanced diet – meaning, the importance of variety.

The grain family is extremely versatile and includes wheat, whole rice (red, black, basmati, Persian, round and more), barley (groats and pearl barley), oats (Quaker and muesli), rye, millet and corn.
Botanically speaking buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth are not grains, yet their nutritional value and preparation methods are similar to grains. 

Each grain has its own benefits, yet other grains cannot be overlooked: barley and oats for example are highly rich in soluble fibers that contribute to balancing the blood sugar and fat levels, quinoa contains fine, complete proteins and rye has an extremely low glycemic index.   

Examples for diversifying your diet are:

 
Groats instead of rice in Megadra
Quaker instead of wheat cereal
Quinoa instead of groats in a Taboule salad
Whole rye bread instead of whole wheat

Therefore it is important that we don’t leave out any of our nutrients, surely not carbs. Whole grains are an excellent source of carbs as well as many other essential nutritional components.

There is a large variety of grains and so it is important to learn about the available variety and ensure that we combine different types in our daily nutrition.

Mrs. Orit Ofir, Clinical Dietician (B.Sc), Naturopathist (N.D) and Pilates instructor.
Published on the Infomed.co.il

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