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Carbs – To Have or Not to Have?

Carbs – To Have or Not to Have?

Have you heard that carbs are bad for you?  Or maybe you’ve heard that carbs will make you fat. Are these statements fact or fiction?  To answer this question you must know the difference between carbohydrates that come from real food and those that come from manufactured calories? 

Carbohydrates that come from real food; from grain sources such as barley, buckwheat, rye, quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat provide our bodies with essential B-complex vitamins, minerals such as iron, selenium, and magnesium, and necessary dietary fiber. 

On the other hand, carbohydrates that come from manufactured sources, in foods such as cookies, crackers, baked goods, many breakfast cereals and popular snack and convenience foods, are the culprits that can cause serious medical issues such as diabetes and obesity.

Let’s take a look at why carbohydrates have received such an unfortunate, poor reputation.  First you must understand the difference between a whole grain and a refined grain.  Let’s look at a single grain of whole wheat.  It contains three parts; the outer coating or shell called the bran, the innermost part called the germ, where most of the nutrients are located, and the largest part of the grain kernel, the endosperm, composed primarily of starch.  When the entire kernel of wheat is used to produce a food product, all of the essential nutrients and the dietary fiber remain.  But when products are manufactured using only the endosperm; as in the case of many breakfast cereals, white bread and bagels, cookies, crackers, and other popular snack foods, the product is stripped of its nutrients and fiber. 

If you look at only the endosperm under a microscope you would see a long, simple chain of sugar molecules.  When you eat products processed from only the single, starchy part of the wheat kernel your body breaks it down exactly as it does sugar, causing a fast rise in blood sugar.

If you look on the ingredient list of many breads, cereals, and snack products you may see the first ingredient listed as “enriched” flour.  Enriched flour is flour made from only the endosperm of the grain kernel.  Since all of the nutrients are stripped away when the bran and the germ are removed, laboratory produced vitamins are added back in and the products is called “enriched”.  The carbohydrates that result from products made from white flour and sugar are called “refined” carbohydrates.  Refined carbohydrates are not found in nature.  We make them that way.  It is these refined carbohydrates that have caused the unfortunate rumors that carbohydrates are a nutrient group to be avoided.  Carbohydrates in their whole form should be included in a balanced diet to ensure that all essential nutrients and dietary fiber are obtained. 

Nancy Hintze

About the author

Nancy Hintze, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, began her career as a Foods and Nutrition teacher in Lehi, Utah in 2003. At the time she began teaching middle school students about nutrition, she weighed 286 pounds. She quickly became aware that if she expected her students to believe her, she had to be an example of what she taught. Over the course of the next several years, as she eliminated 125 pounds by changing what she ate and how she cooked, Nancy became passionate about sharing her healthy lifestyle keys with her students and their families. Along the journey of her transformation, she also became an avid chef with a zest for good old fashioned food preparation with a modern twist – healthy ingredients and ease of preparation.

Nancy is a licensed Family and Consumer Sciences teacher as well as a certified L.E.A.N Health Coach. She has developed and produced Community Nutrition Fairs, mentored students in the Fuel Up to Play program and accompanied one of her students to represent Utah in the National Fuel Up to Play summit in Washington, D. C. In addition, she has coached individual clients to achieve greater levels of personal wellness. And now we have the privilege of announcing Nancy as our very own Culinary Nutritionist here at Reams.

When she’s not sharing her passion for great eating with others, you can find her in her vegetable garden, or knitting or sewing, reading a great novel, hanging out with one of her 21 grandchildren or on the road in the RV that she and her husband love to travel in.