The popularity of low carbohydrate diets seems understandable since research shows that a low-carb diet can be effective for weight loss. This type of diet helps stabilize blood sugar levels and ultimately drops the body’s levels of insulin, a fat-storing hormone. This helps to explain why many type 2 diabetics are often encouraged to follow a low-carb diet. Generally speaking, a low-carb diet means restricting most grains. So, are there any low-carb grains that do not have to be off limits?
One of the first distinctions to be made here is the difference between whole and refined (processed) grains. Whole grains contain all three original parts, the bran, germ and endosperm, intact as when the grains were harvested. They retain all their nutrients and most importantly, are a good source of fiber. Reﬁned grains are grains that are not whole, because they are missing one or more of their three key parts (bran, germ or endosperm). Reﬁning a grain removes about a quarter of the protein in a grain, and half to two thirds or more of many nutrients, leaving the grain a mere shadow of its original self. Most refined grains contain little to no fiber.
The following whole grains can support a carbohydrate restricted diet:
- Bulgur. Bulgur makes the top of the list as the grain with the lowest number of net carbs per serving. It is an ancient grain that packs a nutritional punch into each nutty bite. Try it as a rice substitute or add to soups and salads.
- Steel Cut Oats. Long cooking oats (NOT instant oats) are one of the best diet-friendly grains out there. Additionally, oats are rich in protein, which is an added advantage. A study in Nutrition Journal showed eating oatmeal helped reduce appetite over four hours better than cold cereal containing the same amount of calories.
- Wild Rice. Wild rice offers a denser and nuttier option than brown rice. It is a good source of antioxidants, protein, zinc, B6 and folate. Wild rice is low in fats and rich in the amino acid lysine.
Reducing the amount and type of carbs you consume can have a positive impact on your health. Be mindful of your choices for the best health yet!