Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Lets Get Dense

Now that I've sufficiently extolled the virtue of grains in our diet, you might think that I've jumped ship to the high carb - low fat side. Nothing could be further from the truth. With proper planning, and sufficient intake of the correct vegetables and fruits, all the nutritional value derived from grains can be replaced. But, much as lumping all fats together is an asinine thing to do, so is lumping all grains together. Crisco and enriched white flour are equally worthless. EVOO, raw butter from grass fed cows, Steel cut Oats and whole barley however, can find a spot on my table any day. Eating low carb does not guarantee proper nutrition, any more than any other chosen way of eating. We need certain nutrients, and many of these nutrients are easily obtained from grain sources. So how many servings should we eat? Well, that depends. Are you sensitive or intolerant to grains? Are they a trigger food for you? If either of these is the case, then you should rightfully avoid them. If, however, you are avoiding them because grains are "evil", then you may wish to reconsider. That being said, how many servings of grains should you eat? Well, like any other food, it depends, and by and large, really doesn't matter. Rather than focus on where the nutrients come from, focus on getting the proper nutrients. Use the USRDA as a guideline to prevent nutritional deficiencies. Then eat to provide your body with sufficient nutrient intake, with out consuming excessive calories. In so doing, your intake of grain products will be limited. Those who are engaged in activities that require high levels of energy, marathon runners for an extreme example, can eat more starch, as well as everything else, as they will burn it up. Those who are desk jockeys will need to eat less. Eating to provide your body with proper nutrient intake is quite a challenge, which is why so many folks advocate supplements. There is no need to restrict your choices, making it even harder.

3 comments:

Regina Wilshire said...

We need certain nutrients, and many of these nutrients are easily obtained from grain sources.

Can you point to a grain food that is a nutritional powerhouse?

K. Dill said...

Well, the term "powerhouse" carries a certain barb that can be used to catch the unwitting by manipulating the definition to suit ones purposes depending on the answer. Not that you would do such a thing. But for the sake of argument, I'll pick two, maize and quinoa.

Maize contains protein, oils, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, zinc, potassium, an iron.

Nutrients in 100 grams of Quinoa

Unit Amount
Of In
Nutrient Measure Quinoa

Food energy kCal: 374
Total lipid (fat) g: 5.8
Carbohydrate, by diff. g: 68.9
Ttl monounsaturated fat g: 1.535
Ttl polyunsaturated fat g: 2.347
Riboflavin mg: 0.396
Folacin μg: 49
Potassium mg: 740
Calcium mg: 60
Phosphorus mg: 410
Magnesium mg: 210
Iron mg: 9.25
Zinc mg: 3.3
Pantothenic acid mg: 1.047
Copper mg: 0.82
Oleic acid (18:1) g: 1.525
Linoleic acid (18:2/n6) g: 2.214
Lysine g: 0.734
Methionine g: 0.262
Arginine g: 0.918
Tryptophan g: 1.100

Now, as I mentioned in the blog, grains are not required to meet ones nutritional requirements. But, just because they are not required, does not exclude them from inclusion in a balanced diet. Due to thier energy density, however, we probaly shouldn't eat a grain based diet ala the USDA food pyramid.

Regina Wilshire said...

Due to thier energy density, however, we probaly shouldn't eat a grain based diet ala the USDA food pyramid.

I asked mainly because, calorie for calorie, there isn't one grain out there that offers a higher nutrient density than most non-starchy vegetables....add to that the nutrient-density of most non-starchy vegetables is across a number of nutrients, whereas grains tend to have one or two concentrated nutrients. Basically grains are nutritional weaklings when compared with vegetables.