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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Note on Grains - Derek

I wanted to write a little on nutrition since I haven't in a while. I thought I'd address a question I get a lot when I am helping people with their food choices, which is: why are carbs (grains) 'bad'? After the Atkins craze a lot of people will agree that carbs make you fat, but why then are they the base of our food pyramid, and why are whole-grains sold as health food?

The answers to these questions are more straight forward than they let on. First of all I want to say clearly that carbohydrates are not bad for you, refined grains are. The easiest way to show why that is the case is with Dr. Fuhrman's equation for defining a health food: Health=nutrients/calories. Refined grains are calories dense, and through their refining they have been stripped of nearly all their fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. These factors combine to make them a very unhealthy food. As for the reason they are the base of our food pyramid, I can only speculate that this is because they are cheap and easy to mass produce, making them a good choice as a calorie staple (without consideration of health). And of course, whole grain products are marketed as health foods because it is a way to charge more. These products are more nutrient dense than their completely depleted counterparts, but they are still nowhere near as healthy as super-ultra-mega healthy produce.

So remember, when presented with the choice of rice, pasta, bread, cereal, chips, crackers, or pastries, politely decline and say: "Beans and greens please!"



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