Healthy Eating

Nishti’s Top Choices

As a dietitian I often get asked ‘What’s the best grain to include in my diet”. This is such a valuable question as when it comes to our grains, it surely is quality over quantity.

Grains provide us with protein, vitamins and minerals and importantly, grains provide us with carbohydrates. The grains you decide to eat are broken down into sugar and used as energy.

Just as we have to add fuel in our car, we have to add fuel to our body and carbohydrates provide us with that fuel. All people have certain grains they tolerate better so the question is. Which grains suit your body? And are you willing to include better quality grains to keep the engine happy and healthy?

With my 1-2-3 Healthy Eating approach I encourage us all to watch out for the amount of carbohydrate we eat with each meals by ALWAYS including protein and vegetables with the meal. Carbohydrates are an essential part of our diet, however, some of us may overdo it. An excess amount of carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and therefore increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. If I use the car as a metaphor again. When we fuel a car it automatically stops when the tank is full, we human beings could learn from that…

In this blog post I’m going to empower you to choose better grains by providing you with a list of my favourite grains.

Rice

I remember eating rice at least 4 times a week growing up and that’s because it’s stable to the Middle East. We tend to have it with a meat based stew and salad.

Rice is a fantastic slow release carbohydrate, particularly basmati rice. That’s because rice contains a resistant starch which makes it a slow release carbohydrate.

Resistant starch basically increases satiety, helps to keep you fuller for longer and is therefore a preferred carbohydrate over short grain rice which does not contain resistant starch.

Rice also contains protein but it’s not a source of complete protein. Protein is only considered complete when it contains all your 9 essential amino acids. Meat is considered complete protein for instance.

Dal-Chawal or Rice and lentils together is an example of a complete protein meal. In countries such as India, where people predominately eat a vegetarian diet, rice holds a very important position to their diet composition as it allows the vegetarian population to create a complete protein meal.

Last bit of rice goodness to share with you is that rice is naturally gluten free! I you suffer with IBS like symptoms when eating wheat or if you have coeliac condition or suffer with gluten sensitivity, then more rice may just be the way forward for you!

Why not mix rice with quinoa or beans or lentils? That’s how I do it. It betters the nutritional profile.

My favourite way to eat rice is the Lebanese way. Also known as Mujadara (Lebanese Lentils, Rice and Caramelised Onions). Nothing comes close to this, it’s divine.

Bulgur wheat

Also referred to as the Middle Eastern Pasta for it’s versatility as a base for all sorts of dishes.

Bulgur wheat is a fantastic source of insoluble fibre so it therefore counts as a portion of wholegrain.

As a staple of Indian, Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisines for centuries, bulgur wheat tends to be most well-known in the West as the main ingredient used in tabbouleh. But there are lots of ways to use this fast-cooking, versatile grain: in soups, over salads and in whole grain bread, for example.

In Denmark where I’m from, public health initiatives encourage the population to eat at least 75g of wholegrain a day (An example of this would be homemade muesli with Greek yogurt for breakfast, Tuna whole-grain pasta salad for lunch and bulgur wheat, chicken and Middleterranean vegetables for dinner. Including more wholegrain in your diet will help you to increase your fibre intake and therefore it will benefit your digestive health and even reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes later in life and some form of cancers.

Amaranth

Amaranth is a small gluten free grain originated from South America and said to have been cultivated for more than 8000 years. The seeds are produced by the amaranth plant which leaves are known used to make Callaloo.

Callaloo is a staple vegetable and leafy green used in Caribbean cooking. It is basically the edible leaves of the Amaranth plant– and while it almost resembles spinach, it doesn’t quite taste like it.

Nutritionally, amaranth is high in protein, iron, calcium and, zinc and vitamin C. The iron content is 7.6mg per 100g uncooked weight. Brown rice only has 1.8mg! Just so you have something to compare it with.

If you are vegetarian or vegan then using this grain would help you to meet your protein and iron requirements. Personally I enjoy mixing Amaranth with Quinoa ( another incredible grain which contains all your 9 essential amino acids) to make meat free meat balls.

Freekeh

Pronounced free-kah. .(sometimes called farik) is wheat that’s harvested while young and green. It’s roasted over an open fire, then the straw and chaff are burned and rubbed off.

This protein, iron and zinc packed grain is native to Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, where it has been stable for centuries. With it’s fantastic nutritional profile, including a glycemic index (GI) of only 43, freekeh has made it to the list of new ancient ‘supergrains’ and I’m not surprised! Although there is no such thing as a super grain or superfood! Food is as super as we make it to be! Variety is key!

A GI of only 43 makes freekeh a low insulin response which makes it my favourite carbohydrate substitute for people who have diabetes (type 1 and 2, for people who want to prevent diabetes and for people who want to live a healthier lifestyle looking after our precious body. 

I purposely saved Freekeh for last as it is my favourite choice of worldly grains. It’s such a treat to eat grains that are tasty and nutritious and which you know date back thousands of years…My ancestors used to eat this grain daily, so I have decided to do that too. It really agrees with my gut and I feel great after eating it.

So the question is, does your body agree with your choice of grains? If not, reevaluate and ensure you find the right grains for YOUR body. We are all unique, some of us tolerate more wheat than others and some all grains don’t agree with all of us.

Listen to your body and act accordingly. If you want help and advice then please don’t hesitate to contact me. I offer online consultations from the comfort of your home. I would be able to guide  you towards a healthier nutritious diet by identifying the grains most suitable for you. Phone me today on +447825750040.

Thanks for reading and please share this blog with someone you think would benefit from reading it.

Warmly,

Nishti

Please note that this information neither is medical advice, nor is it meant to replace the advice of your doctor or dietitian and I assume no liability for the use or misuse of this information.

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