Good Carb, Bad Carb...


There seems to be a lot of confusion around whole grains, and good and bad carbohydrates.

I think the pandemonium occurred somewhere along the path of human food consumption when someone erroneously stated that all carbs were bad.

Who knows how it happened?

I can only guess that maybe an innocent victim was wolfing down an oversized bagel too quickly and it got lodged in his throat. He dropped dead on the spot with the bagel hanging suspiciously out of his mouth. A bystander witnessing this tragedy shouted, “Look! Carbohydrates can kill!”

And thus carbo-phobia was born and all carbs labeled bad.

Once we become educated about the effects of carbohydrates in the human body, irrational fears will subside and bread makers around the world can fire up their ovens again and get back to work!

Some of the “good” carbs to stock in your home are whole grains and whole grain products. Whole grains have been part of the human food supply for thousands of years, and recipes for them have been passed down from generation to generation.

There is even a reference to whole grains and bread making in the Bible. “Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof; according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, even three hundred and ninety days, shalt thou eat thereof.[1]

Yes, that’s right… the Bible is actually a big old cookbook. Dust it off, say a prayer, and start cooking. Amen, sister!

Whole grains are wholesome foods that haven’t been completely refined. They are “whole” as the name implies, have not been broken down; and retain their integrity. They contain most of their vitamins, minerals, bran, fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and other essential elements that make them a better food choice than most refined grain products like white flour, white pasta, white rice and the infamous white killer bagel!

A good rule of thumb: the whiter the grain, the more anemic it may be.

It’s clearly a wise idea to go for the brown when making carbohydrate choices. This does not mean that chocolate cake, although quite brown, should be considered a good carbohydrate choice.

A simple example of whole and refined grains is brown rice versus white rice. These are actually the same grain, only the white rice has been stripped of its outer layers (bran, fiber, nutrients, and vitamins), leaving behind a refined carbohydrate with a high glycemic index. Foods with a high glycemic index turn to sugar rapidly in the body, and, when eaten in excess, create blood sugar swings and nutritional deficiencies.

You could probably eat five bowls of white rice and become quite full, but the body’s nutritional needs may not be met, so you might still be hungry for nutrients.

I know what you’re thinking… and yes, you can still eat white rice, white flour, and white killer bagels; just keep in mind that the greatest health potential can be reached if you consume whole grains and whole grain products most often, and highly refined grains (and chocolate cake) less often.

Learning how to get healthy should never be about deprivation.  “Preserving the health by too strict a regimen is a wearisome malady.”  François Duc de la Rochefoucauld.

Next time you go to the market, pick up a bag of brown rice, barley, wild rice, quinoa, polenta, kasha, millet, or whole, rolled, or cracked oats.  Please keep in mind that whole grains need to be prepared properly for us to be able to absorb and assimilate their nutrients. You can read more about that here: Are You Confused About Grains?

One of my favorite grains is polenta – totally yum! Here is a great recipe for you to try.

Polenta with Sauteed Shitake Mushrooms, Sausage and Greens






Excerpted from Health is Wealth