“Although there are many diets aimed at reducing carbohydrates it is timely to remember that for many, you can enjoy your carbohydrates, especially as they do add value and nutrition to your diet. In fact half the world has diets based on rice and other forms of carbohydrates.
What we need to do is make sure these ‘carbs’ are good quality and ‘whole’ in terms of the grain itself.
This will mean you will get a good contribution in terms of fibre, certain vitamins and minerals, and also protein.
The common grains
Cereal plants have seeds, and it is these seeds that are the grains we eat. Wheat in the Western diet is a predominant grain – rye, barley and oats are also well known. Rice of course is a staple in many other countries.
Normally the term wholegrain refers to food that uses the whole of the grain including the outer layers, bran and germ. The term wholemeal generally refers to foods where the whole of the grain has been ground into smaller particles. However, it is important to read labels carefully as these terms are not always described accurately.
A refined grain is where the outer layers of brain and grain have been removed and this leaves the starchy endosperm which is inside.
Much of the goodness in grains is contained in the outer bran layer and germ of the grain and this means you get up to three quarters more nutrition from products which are whole grains as opposed to refined. It is best therefore to choose from products such as:
Unrefined breakfast cereals
That means it is best to eat less of the refined products such as white bread ,
pasta, crispbreads and rice
What nutrients will you get from wholegrain products?
Fiber (both soluble and insoluble)
B vitamins including folic acid
Essential fatty acids (omega 3 fat)
Other micronutrients such as copper
The other positives
Because of the fiber in wholegrain foods they move more quickly through the digestive system. Good quality wholegrain food often helps keep us fuller for longer plus the fiber in these wholegrains helps the ‘healthy’ gut bacteria multiply and is deemed to be beneficial in protecting the gut wall.
Wholegrains also generally have what is known as a low glycaemic index where they provide a slow release of carbohydrate into the blood so helping to provide a source of energy for longer.
How much should you eat?
The general recommendation is to have six servings of whole grain food daily.