October 22, 2014

Carbs Can be a Good Thing

Since I changed my diet, I'm always asked if I've given up carbs. The answer is an unequivocal NO. I used to eat too many carbohydrates, but my body needs carbs. I don't feel well if I don't include them in some form or fashion. A low-carb diet will help you lose more weight and reduce your risk of heart disease, but not all carbs are created equal. Carbohydrates are essential fuel for our bodies (especially when engaging in any physical activity) and our brains (carbs regulate mood). The phrase you've heard again and againeverything in moderationturns out to be mostly true. The trick is to know which carbs are good for you, so if you can remember fiber versus sugar, you're on the right path. (And even some sugars are good for you, too.)

My favorite snack happens to be popcorn. I make a batch at least three times a week. I make cook-it-on-the-stove popcorn with a little canola oil and a pinch of salt. (You could add a touch of chili powder or taco seasoning for more flavor.) This childhood comfort food has stuck with me. Here's the good news: Popcorn is a whole grain. One cup has 6 grams of carbs, one of which is fiber, and has only 31 calories.

Here are some of my other favorites...

Bananas. I eat at least one a day. A medium-size banana contains 3 grams of fiber and a hearty dose of vitamin B6, crucial for more than 100 different functions in the body, including calming the body.

Oatmeal. I prefer to eat this during the winter months and I sprinkle a little cinnamon on top. The particular type of fiber in oats has been linked to improved heart health, weight management, and has helped reduce cholesterol.

Blueberries. I eat fresh when I can and frozen when I can't, and they're a must-have ingredient in my fruit shake recipe. This super fruit offers some fiber and a whole host of vitamins and antioxidants. Eating just one serving a week has been linked with warding off cognitive decline as we age.

To take it a step further...if you're feeling stressed or anxious, try eating carbohydrates. The effect that carbohydrates have is their ability to produce serotonin. (Serotonin gives you a calm and relaxed feeling.) It is also important to include vitamin B6 in your diet as it ensures the production of serotonin. Carbohydrate rich foods like pop corn, oatmeal, and berries, helps fight cortisol (which my body does not make enough of); a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands that when not regulated can lead to auto-immune diseases as well as other health issues.

Carbs: Good for the body and the mind.

You may also enjoy, Rain or Shine.

As with any change in diet, you should always check with your health-care professional first.

Photo: ThomasLife