Archive for the tag - complex carbohydrates

Is Gluten-Free Healthier?

The other day, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when I saw a tub of ice cream advertised as gluten-free. Labeling a product as gluten-free has become an increasingly popular trend – and savvy marketers are hoping that consumers will believe that gluten-free products are healthier. They’re not.

In a tweet last April, Miley Cyrus even tweeted that “gluten is crapppp.” That’s crap, with four p’s.

As it turns out, gluten-free and healthy are two very different things. According to Mayo Clinic:

A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).

Gluten-free isn’t meant to be a weight loss strategy. Instead, a gluten-free diet is a treatment for celiac disease. According to the National Institutes of Health, 1 in 133 people have this condition. When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, it causes the little hair-like projects that move food through to the gut to breakdown – resulting in bleeding, malabsorption and other issues.

If you don’t have celiac disease, there’s nothing wrong with consuming gluten. In fact, it’s healthy to do so. Sorry, Miley. Moreover, gluten-free diets tend to lack fiber, are higher in simple carbohydrates (the so-called “bad” carbs) and often low in the complex carbohydrates that our bodies need. If you do go gluten-free for medical reasons, it’s important to work with nutritionists and doctors to get a well-rounded diet.

The bottom line: If something is labeled as gluten-free, it’s not offering any sort of health benefit – unless, of course, you have celiac disease. The alleged link between a product being gluten-free and its nutritional content, as exemplified by my ice cream experience, is non-existent.

Which Beans Are the Healthiest?

Legumes to love!

Beans – perhaps because of their gassy reputation – don’t always get a lot of love.

The truth is, beans are healthy, delicious and incredible inexpensive. As a complex carbohydrate, beans fall into the “good carb” category. Moreover, they’re a great source of fiber, antioxidants and protein. They truly are a powerhouse food.

But it doesn’t stop there. Researchers at Michigan State University reviewed 25 years of bean research and found that beans help people fight a whole slew of chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

It all begs the question: Which beans are the healthiest?

There’s no easy answer; each bean brings something different to the table. But, in general, nutrition experts agree that the following beans are among the best:

  1. Soybeans. These beans are a great source of protein and contain high levels of heart-healthy essential fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, minerals and more. Soybeans are often used as a meat alternative or for soy milk and soy cheese.
  2. Lentils. These beans are high in dietary fiber, folate, manganese, iron, protein, potassium and more. As an added benefit, lentils have been shown to help your cardiovascular system by lowering bad cholesterol, increasing energy and stabilizing blood sugar levels. These hearty beans are often used for soups and stews.
  3. Black beans. I love black beans; they’re very popular in Mexican dishes. Beyond being delicious, they’re a good source of folate, protein, dietary fiber, manganese, magnesium, vitamin B1, iron and more. They may even help lower the risk of heart attack – and are very high in antioxidants.
  4. Kidney beans. Rich in flavor, kidney beans contain lots of folate, protein, dietary fiber, manganese, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and more. Kidney beans may also lower your heart attack risk, increase energy, stabilize blood sugar levels – and even improve your memory!
  5. Navy beans. Navy beans got their name from being a staple food for the U.S. Navy. And, with tons of fiber, protein, folate, manganese, vitamin B1, iron and more, it’s easy to see why. They’re typically used to make baked beans but are also great in soups and chili.

Whether you opt for canned or dried beans, there isn’t a huge nutritional difference. However, pay attention to the amount of sodium in canned beans.

And, if you’re concerned about the “explosive” side effects of beans, try adding cilantro, turmeric, rosemary, fennel or anise to your beans. These spices may help curb the unwanted flatulence.

The bottom line: Beans, beans in a pot. The more you eat, the more you… start eating a balanced, nutritional diet. Beans are a great and inexpensive way to improve your diet.