Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Going Against the Grain

We read and hear almost daily about the importance of eating whole grain foods. The most often promoted among those available include 100% whole wheat (or other grain) bread and 100% whole grain cereals. We're told these foods are rich with nutrients and are a good source of fiber.

For those following a low-carb diet, one that is limiting total carbohydrates each day, including whole grains is almost impossible in the first weeks after starting many of the low-carb diets. Are these folks running the risk of nutrient deficiency without including grains?

Surprisingly the answer is "no" if they choose and include their vegetables wisely!

A few years ago, I wrote an article titled "No Potatoes? No Bread? Oh My!" that detailed how vegetables - that is non-starchy vegetables - actually offer a higher level of nutrients and fiber when compared with whole grain breads or potatoes (another highly promoted starchy vegetable).

Two regular slices of 100% whole wheat bread comes in at 137-calories, with 4g of fiber, 2.4g of fat, 25.8g of carbohydrate (total) and 5.4g of protein.

The bread choice also offers 4% of daily calcium, 10% of iron, 10% of thiamin, 6% of riboflavin, 11% of niacin, 7% of folate, 5% of B-6, 13% of phosphorus, 12% of magnesium, 7% of zinc and 8% of copper.

Pretty impressive, isn't it?

What if, instead, you chose a cup of cooked spinach?

Well, that's just 41-calories, with 4.3g of fiber, 0.46g of fat, 6.75g of carbohydrate (total) and 5.4g of protein. So, with the spinach option, you're saving yourself fat and calories with similar protein and fiber intake.

What about the vitamins and minerals?

The spinach is actually more nutrient-dense, providing 295% of vitamin A, 29% of Vitamin C, 24% of calcium, 36% of iron, 4% of Vitamin E, 9% of thiamin, 21% of riboflavin, 4% of niacin, 66% of folate, 22% of B-6, 10% of phosphorus, 39% of magnesium, 9% of zinc and 16% of copper.

Tell me again why grains are a "must have" in our diet?

While whole grains are significantly better than refined grains, they are not necessary in the diet. Yes, you can have some when you are controlling your carbohydrate intake, but it is not true you have to eat grains to get your fiber and nutrient requirements met!

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