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The great carbohydrate debate!

I read an interesting article this week, and it was discussing the varied thoughts around eating carbohydrates. It is good, or is it not?

Selection of carbohydrates including bread, pasta, potatoes, nuts and bananas

There seems to be a great deal of confusion around this topic. There’s a wide range of nutritional value in the carbohydrate kingdom with sweets, sugary drinks and processed carbs on one end of the spectrum and whole grains, fruits and vegetables on the other.

It’s a no-brainer to realise which ones would be best for you, but I do think it can be a little unclear at times.

Very few people can argue with the fact that vegetables and fruits are healthy carbohydrates, but whole grains are different.

They used to be considered a staple food. But with all the fad diets, are they still considered so?

I have a lot of clients that tell me they never eat carbohydrates to maintain their weight. If you are one of these people you could be doing yourself an injustice for your health. The fact is grains, like brown rice, quinoa, whole grain pasta, barley, buckwheat, bulgur, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat crackers, wild rice, millet (the list goes on), are loaded with essential nutrients.

Including them in your diet delivers a wide array of health benefits and even long-term weight control.

Obviously, if you have coeliac disease or a gluten sensitivity, you’ll want to avoid the whole grains that contain gluten, but there are so many other healthy carbs that can be enjoyed instead.

Fact: the more whole grains you eat, the lower your risk of death! Harsh,but true!

At just three servings of whole grains per day, your risk decreases significantly, especially when it comes to dying from heart disease or cancer. And for every extra serving beyond three per day, your risk decreases even more.

Not to mention the fact that whole grains are one of the biggest diet components to preventing heart disease to begin with.

In addition to living longer, people who eat whole grains have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight. If you eat carbs daily you can avoid the typical rate of weight gain that happens in adulthood (about two pounds per year).

People who eat whole grains daily burn about 100 more calories a day because of their increased metabolism and better digestion, with an increase in bowel movement. No more horrid constipation!

And eating whole grains at meals helps you stay full longer, which means you’re less likely to snack or binge on unhealthy foods.

Even though whole grains have a hearty dose of carbohydrates and have the potential to raise blood sugar, they also contain fibre, which can prevent blood sugar spikes.

Plus, the magnesium in carbs is an important co-factor for helping the body properly use glucose and make insulin. So for diabetics, they are an essential food.

Also, according to many studies done in both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women, they have shown significant reductions in breast cancer risk when eating fibre from whole grains every day. This has been tied to their rich source of phyto-oestrogenic lignans (plant oestrogens found in cereal fibre).

The lignans mimic oestrogen, causing your body to produce less on its own. Less oestrogen production means greater breast cancer prevention.

Fibre is also very helpful at binding to toxins to get them out of your body. Plus, the fibre in whole grains helps promote a healthy digestion by acting as pre-biotics, the food that nourishes your good bacteria (pro-biotics). This is why diets rich in whole grains can help remedy diverticulosis, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive ailments.


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