Are Carbs a Killer?

Kowalski's Nutritionist Sue Moores, M.S., R.DNo. Phew! But, one might think so with all the bad press they've received lately. From the headline-grabbing Wheat Belly Diet and Grain Brain books to the continually popular Paleo (Caveman) Diet, grains can't catch a break. And they need one.

Carb-rich foods can be a huge help to your health, but they have to be better carbs. Quality carbs provide energy. In fact, they are the preferred source of energy for your brain. They satisfy your appetite, help control your blood sugar level and help keep your intestines in tip-top shape, in part, by feeding the good bacteria you want living in your gut. That good bacteria nudges out the bad guys and boosts your immune system to keep you well.

What are quality carbs?

  • They are whole food sources of carbohydrates (think beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, freekeh, bulgur, barley and wheat berries).
  • They are minimally processed.
  • They contain fiber – their own naturally occurring fiber (foods with added fiber, coming from ingredients such as inulin or chicory root, don't count).

Pick the real deal

  • Choose foods like those listed above.
  • Mix it up. Every quality carbohydrate offers a unique set of nutrients. Eating a variety of better carbs means better health.
  • If you see “made with whole grain” or “contains whole grains” on a package label, check the ingredient list. The FDA says a food can call itself a whole grain if it contains at least 51% whole grains by weight. But a 51% whole-grain food will not carry near the natural goodness and health benefits of a 100% whole-grain food.

Contributed by Sue Moores, M.S., R.D., Kowalski's Nutritionist.

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