Humans eat from the grain group in two ways – we either eat grains or grain products. Traditional grains, of course, are the smarter choice. Oats, farro, barley, rice, buckwheat, quinoa (actually a pseudo-grain) and many others have been around for ages, supporting life and contributing to many a culture’s longevity. Then, over the last 100 years, products made from these traditional grains have gained traction – enough to be concerning.
Traditional grains should take priority over grain products
Recommendations for the grain group are going to vary greatly from person to person. No matter how many servings you target from this group, choosing grains – instead of grain products, is the best practice. But eating NO grain products isn’t preferable for many. If you do opt to include a few grain products in your diet regularly, here is one good tool to help you choose more sensible options.
A good ratio of carbohydrates is important
There are 3 types of carbs: sugar, starch, and fiber. Sugar and starch provide a rise in blood sugar.Fiber actually helps to slow down how fast the other two will cause that rise (as do protein and fat). So when choosing grain products like cereals, crackers, breads, frozen waffles, bagels and so much more, the goal is to have at least 1 gram of fiber for every 5 grams of starch/sugar to help avoid rapid blood sugar spikes.
The 5-to-1 rule in 4 simple steps
- Look on the nutrition facts label on the grain product in question.
- Divide total grams of carbohydrates by total grams of fiber.
- If your answer is greater than “5”, the more starch/sugar it is providing
- Reconsider purchasing products that are higher than “5”, or limiting significantly as part of an occasional treat.
compared to fiber.
Using the tool is easy – finding grain products that “pass the test” is not. Look out for deceiving terms and use the math. You’ll be surprised how many products you thought were healthy don’t make the cut.