Grains and carbs, especially whole grains, are a vital part of any diet. They can be found in brown rice, pasta, cereals, bread and popcorn. However, in recent years, many people have opted to avoid these foods—especially those trying to lose weight. Perhaps due to the popularity of low-carb diets like the Atkins, Dukan and South Beach diets, people believe carbohydrates should be avoided. The only instance where this might apply is with refined carbs, or white carbs (white bread, white pasta, white rice). Most white carbs start with flour that has been ground and refined by stripping the outer layer, where the fibre is located. Refined carbs are easy to overeat as they are less satisfying than their wholegrain counterparts, and the body can absorb processed grains and simple sugars relatively quickly, and increased blood sugar triggers a release of insulin—meaning that hunger will return quickly.
However, carbohydrates, especially wholegrain varieties, are important for our health and to maintain a healthy weight, provide a whole host of health benefits and can alleviate certain ailments.
See also: Unwind and De-stress with Good Nutrition
The fibre content in whole grains helps to keep bowel movements regular, and studies have shown that people who eat more fibre need fewer laxatives. Whole grains can help prevent diverticulosis (a condition where little pouches form in the colon wall, causing inflammation, constipation, diarrhoea and stomach pain).
Whole grains also contain lactic acid which promotes ‘good bacteria’ in the large intestine, aiding digestion and promoting better nutrition absorption, and can even help to strengthen the body’s immune system.
Whole grains not only help prevent your body from absorbing ‘bad’ cholesterol, they can also lower triglycerides—both of which are major contributors to heart disease.
One study found that those who ate two to three servings of whole grain products daily were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease, compared with those who ate less than one serving a week.
Maintain a healthy weight
People who eat a lot of whole grains are more likely to keep their weight in check and less likely to gain weight over time than those who eat refined grains. In one study, women who consumed the most wheat germ, brown rice, dark bread, popcorn, and other whole grains had a 49 percent lower risk of ‘major weight gain’ over time compared with women who favoured white bread. Over the span of 12 years, middle-aged men and women who ate a diet high in fiber gained 3.35 pounds less than those who went for refined products. Even if eating whole grains doesn’t actually make you lose weight, studies have shown that it can help you cut down on the amount of body fat you have and lead to a healthier distribution of that fat. Specifically, eating whole grains can leave you with less belly fat, which can increase your risk of diabetes and other health problems.
See also: Weight Loss Choices
Did you know?
Grains are important sources of nutrients, such as:
B vitamins thiamin (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin (Vitamin B3) and folate (Vitamin B9)—important in a variety of biological functions.
Folate (folic acid), one of the B vitamins, helps the body form
new cells and can prevent certain birth defects.
Iron is used to carry oxygen in the blood.
Magnesium is involved in more than 300 processes in the body, including bone health and energy release.
Selenium is important for a healthy immune system and regulating thyroid hormone action.
Read more on Celebrity Angels about carbs and weight loss.
See also: Dietary Requirements for type 2 Diabetes