I’ve never been a fan of low-carb diets: our bodies and our brains need
carbohydrates to work effectively. A few
years ago, while preparing for a marathon with Team in Training, a fellow runner told me she was trying to lose weight.
Then she told me about her super-restrictive low-carb diet. At the time, I was getting my master’s
degree in nutrition and I couldn’t resist sharing my opinion. “You. Must. Eat. Carbs,” I told her, carrying on about how
high-carb foods are essential for rebuilding the energy stores that you deplete running long distances. (Read
6 more reasons your body needs carbohydrates here
Of course, not all carbohydrates are created equally. First of all, fruits, dairy and vegetables are all sources of
carbohydrates. And when it comes to starches, there are indeed “good” carbs (we’ll get to that in a sec) and the “bad” ones
that, if you eat them all the time, can raise your risk of developing diseases like heart disease and diabetes. (We’re
talking about doughnuts, cakes and even refined white breads.) On the flip side, eating “good carbs” in place of refined ones
can reduce your risk of these very same diseases—and may even help you to lose weight because they’re generally rich in
fiber. Here are 6 “great” carbs to keep in your diet.
Because sometimes you just need pasta—and whole-wheat kinds offer two to
three times more fiber than refined white varieties, but they’re just as versatile and delicious. (Similiarly whole-wheat
bread and brown rice are healthier choices than their “white” counterparts.)
Follow the package directions!
Related link: Fusilli with Italian
Sausage & Arugula (pictured above) and More Healthy Pasta Recipes in 30 Minutes
Consider it souped-up couscous. A delicately flavored whole grain, it provides some
fiber (2 grams per half cup) and a good amount of protein (4 grams). Note: Research shows protein can help you feel full for
longer. Rinsing quinoa removes any residue of saponin, its natural bitter protective coating.
Bring 2 cups water or broth to a boil; add 1 cup quinoa. Reduce heat to a
simmer, cover and cook until the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Related link: Toasted Quinoa Salad with Scallops & Snow
Peas and More Quinoa Recipes
is available “pearled” (the bran has been removed) or “quick-cooking” (parboiled).
While both contain soluble fiber that helps keep blood cholesterol levels healthy, pearl barley has a little more.
Pearl barley—Bring 1 cup barley and 2 1/2 cups water or broth to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer; cook, covered, until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 40 to 50 minutes. Let stand 5
minutes. Quick-cooking barley—Bring 1 3/4 cups water or broth to a boil; add 1 cup barley. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook,
covered, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
Related Link: Barley Hoppin' John and More Barley
is cracked wheat that’s been parboiled so it simply needs to soak in hot water for most
uses—a perfect low-maintenance grain. It’s also a good source of feel-full fiber: just 1/2 cup delivers 5 grams.
Pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water or broth over 1 cup bulgur. Let stand,
covered, until light and fluffy, about 30 minutes. If all the water is not absorbed let the bulgur stand longer, or press it
in a strainer to remove excess liquid.
Related link: Bulgur with Ginger & Orange and More Bulgur
are the whole, unprocessed kernels of wheat. They're terrific sources of B
vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc and, yes, fiber.
Sort through wheat berries carefully, discarding any stones, and rinse with
water. Bring 4 cups water or broth and 1 cup wheat berries to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring
occasionally, until tender, but still a little chewy, about 1 hour. Drain.
Related link: Zesty Wheat Berry-Black Bean Chili and
More Wheat Berry Recipes
Because when you’re craving pretzels or potato chips...you’re certainly not going to
reach for a bowl of oatmeal. Popcorn satisfies a snack craving and
it’s a whole grain. No, I’m not kidding: Three
cups of popped popcorn (what you get by popping 1 heaping tablespoon of kernels) equals one of your three recommended daily
servings of whole grains and contains 3 grams of fiber.
Toss a heaping tablespoon into an air popper.
Related link: Try
This Recipe: Cheesy Popcorn