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The deal with white foods

A healthy eating recommendation I hear a lot is “Don’t eat any white foods.”

Are we really talking about all white foods? What about potatoes? What about (heaven forbid) white pasta?

Sugar is definitely one of the “whites” being referred to. I think we all know foods with too much sugar are not a good choice in general and should be limited as much as possible.

What about white grains? They tend to have less nutrition value – this is why they are often labeled as “enriched.” The refining process strips the food of so many vitamins that they have to be enriched with vitamins to add nutritional value back into the product.

When you refine a grain, the outer part of the grain is removed to expose the inner part, carbohydrate, which provides us with energy. The problem is that the outer part of the grain is where we find most of the nutrition to go with the energy-producing carbohydrate. When we remove the outer grain, we lose B-vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals, protein, fiber and more.

The carbs and calories of white versus whole grain is the same – you just get more bang for your buck nutritionally with the whole grain version. You’ll probably feel more full with the whole grain choices because of the extra fiber and protein.

Whenever possible, it’s good to go with a whole grain version of a product, whether it’s bread, rice, pasta, or cereal.

What about potatoes? Are they really as evil as we hear about? I don’t think so. They are actually an amazing source of potassium and Vitamin C. If you eat the peel with it, you also get an excellent dose of fiber. If you love potatoes, there is no reason to not eat them. Just make sure you control your portion and top them with limited healthy condiments if anything at all (margarine, light sour cream, broccoli, etc.). A healthy sized potato is probably about 4-6 oz. in weight or about the size of a computer mouse.

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