Healthy low carb cereals can be added to your diet for more nutrition and variety. It’s a great way to make sure you’re still eating carbs which, despite their bad reputation lately, are still essential for a healthy diet.
Each of us needs carbohydrates as good as protein and big, but each person needs a different amount of these three main nutrients. The difference between low carb grains and other grains is in how they are processed.
Whole grains are harvested from the plant and dried with little interference in processing methods. Refined grains are processed to remove the outer layers, which contain many of the vitamins and minerals we need in our diets. By choosing whole grains over refined grains, you can get maximum health benefits. You’ll also enjoy an abundance of fiber – a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest but which is essential for nutrition.
Fiber is found in whole grains and helps aid digestion, control blood sugar, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and keep you feeling full, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (opens in a new tab). As a complex carbohydrate, fiber is also digested more slowly, reducing blood sugar spikes. The American Diabetes Association (opens in a new tab) says it contains more vitamins and minerals than refined carbohydrates.
But how can you be healthier low carb grains in your diet? Well it’s relatively easy. Simply swap out some of your favorite foods, instead of white bread, try rye or replace your instant oatmeal with steel cut oats. You can also try other grains such as bulgur, barley, and millet. Here we look at the health benefits of these grains and the ways to cook them.
Bulgur is made from crushed whole grains of wheat berries that are parboiled and dried. It has a nutty flavor and is easy to work with as it cooks very quickly – ready in 10-15 minutes.
Bulgur contains approximately 14g carbohydrates (opens in a new tab) per 100g serving and it is a low glycemic index option. It is also high in fiber and contains essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, magnesium and potassium.
Bulgarian is common in the Middle East and Mediterranean diets, as in the parsley salad tabbouleh. It’s a good substitute for other grains, like rice, quinoa, or oats, and can be made into oatmeal, used as a base for a salad or a bowl of cereal, mixed into soups, or added to burgers.
Buckwheat is a pseudocereal that contains about 20g of carbohydrates per serving. A pseudograin, or pseudocereal, comes from seeds instead of grasses like true grains. It is a complete protein, that is, it contains all nine essential amino acids. Bulgarian is also a good source of fiber, B vitamins and magnesium.
This ancient grain has been eaten in Asia for years. Archaeological studies (opens in a new tab) believe that buckwheat has been grown in northern China for food for 6,000 years. Japanese soba noodles are a popular example of a buckwheat-based food.
So, how does it feel to eat? Buckwheat has a nutty flavor and is a great alternative to rice in dishes like risotto or as a side dish. Buckwheat is frequently used as a flour substitute, such as in bread or pancakes. Despite its name, buckwheat is a gluten free cereal and it can be enjoyed by those who are sensitive or allergic to wheat.
Quinoa is also a pseudocereal made from seeds rather than grasses. A serving of quinoa contains about 21 g of carbohydrates. It is a complete protein and an excellent source of nutrients, such as magnesium, folate and zinc. Quinoa is naturally gluten free and comes in a variety of colors, the most common being red, white, and black.
Quinoa is often used to add texture and nutrients to salads, while making a great side dish on its own as an alternative to rice. It can be added as a nutritious filler to dishes such as meatloaf, burgers, and stuffed peppers, or in soups or stews. Quinoa also works if added to baked goods such as muffins.
4. Wild rice
For additional nutritional benefits, consider replacing white rice with wild rice. Cooked wild rice contains about 21g of carbs per serving. There are a number of species of wild rice, which is actually a semi-aquatic grass rather than a grain.
Wild rice contains more protein and fiber than regular rice. It has a firmer texture and a nutty taste. Wild rice can be used in place of white rice in any dish or as a substitute for potatoes or pasta. It is also nice for adding variety to salads, soups and pilafs. Or try it in a dish of stuffed squash, mushrooms or peppers.
Couscous is made of small rolled durum wheat semolina granules. Durum wheat is a common pasta wheat, containing gluten and high in protein. Couscous contains about 23 g of carbohydrates per 100 g and is rich in selenium, a trace element which helps protect against cell damage and infection (opens in a new tab).
Couscous comes in three main varieties – Moroccan, Israeli and Lebanese. Moroccan is the smallest and fastest to cook, while Lebanese couscous is the biggest. It has a nutty flavor and can add texture to dishes. Whole wheat couscous is available for an extra fiber boost. It is often added to salads and stews, or as a side dish to meat. Couscous can also be made into fritters or try it in a Moroccan tagine.
The barley was one of the first plants (opens in a new tab) believed to be domesticated by humans. This grain is high in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals, including selenium and manganese. Cooked barley contains about 28 g of carbohydrates per 100 g. For maximum health benefits, choose whole-grain barley, such as hulled or flaked barley. Pearl barley is the most common and has a tan color because the outer layer of bran has been polished.
Beef and barley soup is a winner for this grain – if vegetarian, substitute the meat for mushrooms. Barley can also be made into risotto, oatmeal or oatmeal, and is also nice to add to salads. Barley being a wheat, it contains gluten.
Millet is not a singular type of grain, but rather a group of small-seeded grasses. Cooked millet contains about 23 g of carbohydrates per 100 g. It is gluten-free and rich in important vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, iron and zinc. Millet is also a good source of dietary fiber.
Millet is a staple food in semi-desert countries of Africa and India, where it is made into a flatbread called roti. It is often added as a seed to bread or made into rolled oats. Millet can be made into a creamy paste, like mashed potatoes, or fluffy, as a rice substitute.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer medical advice.