Not All Carbohydrates Are Created Equal
Americans have a love-hate relationship with carbohydrates.
We believe that carbs make us fat and sluggish, but despite our beliefs, the research reveals we consume carbohydrates in almost record amounts.
So what's the truth about carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates come in two distinct forms:
- Complex carbohydrates include those in whole grain breads, brown rice and many vegetables. These carbohydrates are also the major source of dietary fibers. These foods typically are less processed than their sweeter carbohydrate cousins.
- Sugars are those carbohydrates found in fruits, milk and sweeteners added by manufacturers. Clearly, the added sugars by manufacturers and in sweet foods are creating the bad reputation that carbohydrates have earned over the years.
In the early 1900's, the average American was consuming about 500 grams (2,000 calories) from carbohydrates. Yet, obesity was not a clinical problem. Why? Because the food was unprocessed and as a nation we were active throughout the day.
Americans today eat more carbohydrates, but the choices are more likely to be processed white pasta, rice and chips. Additionally, the consumption of added sugars has increased by 22% over the last 25 years. So more processed carbohydrates and added sugars are dominating the food landscape. This increase in processed carbohydrates means less whole grains consumed.
This is where the problem lies.
Most Americans consume less than one serving of a whole grain per day. The benefits of consuming whole grains are substantial. Whole grains are filling and take longer to digest. When whole grains, like wheat are processed, the outer bran layer is lost. Fiber content of the food is reduced and there is the loss of B vitamins. These B vitamins are added back to the refined grains. However, there are additional losses of nutrients that are not replaced. This outer layer contains magnesium and other phytonutrients that are valuable nutritional heroes.
Research demonstrates that whole grain consumption can reduce the risk of high blood pressure. A study of 31,000 men showed that those with the highest intake of whole grains had a 15% lower risk of blood pressure.
Make a plan to increase whole grains by choosing 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice and increase your fiber intake and improve your health! Introduce these gradually into your children's diets by switching from white refined carbohydrates to whole grains. If whole grain pasta is too chewy for your children, choose one with a whole wheat blend. Instead of long cooking brown rice, try instant brown rich which has a less dense texture.
Also, remember popcorn is a whole grain!