There was a time when carbohydrates were vilified… oh wait, it’s still happening in 2021. But this is a complex topic and one that’s confused dieters for ages. If you don’t understand just what carbohydrates are, you could get bamboozled into believing that all carbs are bad for you.
This just ain’t so. What sets some carbs apart from others and DOES make them bad? And, which carbs are good and? Whole-grain carbs you should really be eating every day!
What are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates come from plants in the natural world and really form the basis of all diets around the world. They are the building blocks of plant-based meals and include:
- Whole Grains
That seems simple enough, but from these natural basic foods come some of the worse carbs you can eat, and those include highly processed packaged foods with refined whole grains that have had their fiber removed, and refined grains with added sugar.
These are the BAD CARBS. For example:
Sugary cereal, donuts, candy, white bread, soda, pastries, and more! Oh boy, you know what I mean!
You can see why these types of carbs are not on a whole-food, plant-based diet. But you already know these are bad for you, I’ll bet.
All Carbs are Bad – What Some People Think
Whole-grain carbs are the most maligned of the carbohydrate bunch. Some people believe that lectins, which are found in whole grains, legumes, and nuts are harmful to your health.
Lectins are very simply proteins that bind carbohydrates. But, importantly… Lectins are easily destroyed by heat such as when dry beans are cooked.
People just don’t eat uncooked beans.
According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, “The truth is, the scientific evidence does not support the view that lectins are harmful to our health.” And, in fact, the idea that they’re harmful “has been thoroughly disproven by the thousands of studies documenting the health and longevity benefits of these foods” that include grain, legumes, and nuts.
If you’re not sure, be sure to check out all of the references at the bottom of Dr. Fuhrman’s article, “The Real Story on Lectins.”
Why Whole Grains Are Good for You
Whole grains are so good they might even add years to your life! Older adults who ate the most whole grains “were 17 percent less likely to die from any cause during the study period compared to people who consumed minimal whole grains.” according to a study published in BMC Medical Journal analyzing over 300,000 individuals! That’s gotta make you stop and think.
You might be asking, “What about whole grain pasta and bread?” And, I’ll tell you the truth. These are much better than refined grains and can be included in a whole-food, plant-based diet, but whole INTACT grains are even better.
Think along these lines with this example of oats. Quick-cooking oats, more refined, old-fashioned oats better, steel-cut oats even better, and then, the best… oat groats. Yep, you can buy these but they’re a little harder to find.
They’re used and cooked much like brown rice. They can be incorporated into savory casseroles, used as a side dish, made into crackers, or eaten at breakfast. Here are more examples of whole intact grains. Think about adding more variety to your meals using a variety of these.
- Brown Rice / Wild Rice
- Cornmeal / Corn Grits / Polenta
- Wheat Berries / Farro
- Quinoa (pseudograin)
- And a few more obscure grains
The reason whole intact grains are so good is frankly… they make it to your lower colon and feed your gut bacteria which in turn are protective. Be sure to read Dr. Michael Greger’s (nutritionfacts.org) article, “Why Intact Grains Are Even Better Than Whole Grains.”
What About Other Carbs?
Now that we have a clear picture of whole grains, let’s sum up the importance of including lots of other carbs, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds, in our diet.
Nature built us and we’re meant to eat whole foods that were provided by nature in their most natural unprocessed form. They’ll help keep you healthy and lose weight, avoid and sometimes reverse disease, eliminate medicine, and help you feel good for a happy life!
If you’re worried that preparing all of these whole foods is way too time-consuming, keep in mind that there are lots of minimally processed, and the word minimal is very important, foods and products on the market today.
Read my article, “Should You Eat Packaged Foods on a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet?” to find out how you can make eating at home more efficient and still very healthy.