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Grains may be the very first food purposefully farmed in ancient times, partly because they are easy to store for long periods. And grains pack energy in starch. Good news for ancient people, but a real challenge for those of us managing diabetes now. Watch this video to get the nutritional facts about grains.
Welcome back to Diabetes Every Day, I’m Toby Smithson….please remember to subscribe and sign up for my newsletter. I’m here to inform and support your daily efforts at managing diabetes, and this next video in my series on the various groups of carbohydrate foods is about grains.
Table of contents
Be Sure To Check Out – The Other Videos in This Series: Diabetes and Carbohydrates – What You Need To Know About Dairy, Diabetes and Carbohydrates – What You Need To Know About Nonstarchy Vegetables, and Diabetes and Carbohydrates- What You Need To Know!
True Grain or Not – We Only Care About The Carbohydrates.
Grains have been a dietary staple food for humans for a long time, in part because they store well. Grains have strong cultural connections too, and that makes managing our intake of these concentrated carbohydrate foods a real challenge. And, of course, grains are everywhere.
Once again, our definitions of dietetics differ somewhat from our botanist’s friends. “True grains” are all members of the same scientific family…..rice, corn, oats, barley, rye, and wheat. But we’ll talk more about corn when we consider starchy vegetables, and we’ll include foods like quinoa that don’t fit into that definition but resemble true grains. We don’t really care about scientific classification here….we care about carbohydrates.
What Are My Portions?
Grains concentrate carbohydrates like starch. For the most part, a portion of 1/3 cup cooked equals 15 grams carbohydrate, plus or minus a gram or two. That’s white or brown rice, quinoa, teff, amaranth, barley, and millet. For some grains, the 15 grams carbohydrate portion is ½ cup cooked – oats, kasha, wild rice, tabouli, and cream of wheat, for instance. Then we have the “is it grain or not” question with cornmeal, where grits offer a ½ cup portion and polenta a 1/3 cup portion. As main dish, grains are tricky. Order take out from your favorite Asian restaurant, and you’ll likely get this little container of rice along with it….except this little container holds ten 1/3 cup portions….150 grams of carbohydrate. If you come from a cultural background where rice is THE staple food managing the carbs from rice can be a challenge.
Of course, grains are used to make many other challenging foods… bread and pasta would top the list, I’m guessing. One slice of most bread or 1/3 cup of cooked pasta is where you’ll encounter 15 grams of carbohydrate. The bread group would also include tortillas and crackers. And don’t forget “breading”, which can add carbs to otherwise low carbs foods like fish, chicken, or even nonstarchy vegetables, and baked goods containing flour. Breakfast cereals are another dietary challenge where too often, the carbohydrates from the grain are magnified by more carbohydrates from added sugar. For commercial products, the nutrition facts label is, once again, essential for managing diabetes.
Be Sure To Check Out – Can People With Diabetes Eat Bread
I Always Recommend…
From a nutrition standpoint, I always recommend getting the most nutrition possible from carbohydrate foods….like more nutritional benefits justify the carbohydrates, which, as we know, will impact blood sugar. In the grain group, this bargain means go for whole grains whenever possible. Refined grains, like white rice or white bread, have been processed to remove the “bran” and the “germ,” leaving only the endosperm. In general, the carbohydrate content is the same, but whole grains retain some important nutrients and maybe, more importantly, much more dietary fiber, which the American diet sorely lacks.
Did You Know?
Centuries ago, humans learned how to make alcoholic drinks from grain, and that’s worth a mention. While “distilled spirits” are carb-free drinks with a lower alcohol content, like beer have a pretty wide range of carbohydrate content. Check online for the nutrition facts on your favorite grain-based beverages.
Finally… The Popcorn, Grain or Not?
Finally, I’ll settle the “is it or isn’t it a grain” debate by introducing you to my favorite whole grain….popcorn. What’s my favorite thing about popcorn? As a person with diabetes, my favorite thing is the portion size because we’ll find our 15 grams of carbohydrate not in 1/3 cup, like with pasta or rice, but in a portion, 9 times larger…. 3 full cups popped. If that’s not a great way to end this look at grains, I don’t know what would be.
Be Sure To Check Out – 10 Best Foods for Diabetes – Pantry Edition
Join me again in a few weeks to discuss starchy vegetables where we’ll find potatoes and, yes, corn starring in a different role.
Cheers to your health.
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