The Role of Carbohydrates in a Healthy Diet

Your body needs carbohydrates. They are broken down into glucose for use in your body’s cells, primarily as fuel. And this fuel is why marathon runners load up on carbohydrates before the big race.

Obviously, binging on carbs isn’t recommended for normal day-to-day consumption. And despite the low-carb diet craze, authorities like the Mayo Clinic encourage 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates per day.

How Do I Get Enough Carbohydrates?

Yeah, ensuring you eat enough carbs – 225 to 325 grams – might seem like a chore. It isn’t. Common sense nutrition will get you there without much fuss. Consider servings from the followingDietary Guidelines for adults eating 2,000 calories per day:

  • Vegetables – about 2.5 cups daily from a mix of dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy, and other vegetables.

  • Fruits – about 2 cups of whole fruits daily.

  • Grains – about 6 ounces every day.

  • Dairy – about 3 cups per day.

  • Protein – about 5.5 ounces daily.

  • Oils – about 5 teaspoons per day.

Following these guidelines from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion will ensure you are getting the proper daily servings of carbohydrates (and other macronutrients). Just be sure to adjust the caloric intake for the individual needs of your family.

Why Do Carbohydrates Get a Bad Rap?

The simple answer: they are misunderstood. As we said earlier, diet fads seem to decree that all carbohydrates are equal and bad. And much of this confusion appears to be associated with processed sources of carbohydrates – e.g. breads, pastas, etc.

Basically, grains seem to be the culprit. And we can kind of sympathize with that confusion. Many of the grains consumed today have been stripped of their most beneficial nutrients. Not to mention names here, but those twin-packs of cream-filled yellow snack cakes are definitely not a good source of grains.

You can solve this nutritional nightmare by simply opting for whole grains.

What Are Whole Grains?

Defining a “whole grain” is probably easier to understand if you know that a grain has three unique parts:

  • Bran – this is the outer layer of the grain, and it’s rich in fiber, B vitamins, and trace minerals.

  • Germ – this small inner portion is loaded with B vitamins, vitamin E, trace minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats.

  • Endosperm – this is the large, primary kernel of the grain that includes carbohydrates, protein, and some B vitamins.

Most modern milling processes toss the important bran and germ, leaving only the endosperm. But using a more controlled milling process, we can retain all three parts of the grain for a more healthy and nutritious food.

That’s a whole grain. Literally. And that brings us to ask…

How Many Whole Grains do We Need?

According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines from Health.gov, at least half the grains we eat should be whole grains. But researchers have found that simply isn’t happening. In fact, one study discovered that 39% of children and 42% of adults aren’t consuming whole grains at all. Period. A mere 3% of children and 8% of adults consume the USDA’s recommendation for 3 servings daily of whole grain foods.

How much is a serving? 16 grams of whole grains. In other words, you need at least 48 grams of whole grains per day. And with 3-5 servings recommended daily, that could be as many as 80 grams of whole grains per day.

Unfortunately, there’s some confusion, though, over what qualifies as a serving of “whole grain.” And inconsistent labeling led to the creation of the Whole Grains Council. They categorize whole grains foods into 3 categories for which they provide a stamp to inform consumers. Those stamp categories are:

  • 100% Stamp – just as the stamp suggests, 100% of the grains in this product are whole grains with a minimum of 16 grams per serving.

  • 50% Stamp – at least half the grains or more are whole grains with a minimum of 8 grams per serving.

  • Basic Stamp – products with this stamp include at least 8 grams of whole grains, but refined grains may be included, too.

So, if you aren’t seeing the Whole Grains Council stamp on products claiming to provide full or half servings of whole grains, you really have no idea what you’re actually eating.

How to Get Healthy Carbs into Your Diet

Use our Prairie Gold or Bronze Chief whole-wheat flours in your favorite recipes for a nutritional boost. These Wheat Montana flours work amazingly well in your homemade breads, pastas, and more. Best of all, they are non-GMO and chemical-free.

Add a healthy crunch to your morning yogurt with a topping of Wheat Montana 7-Grain Cereal. In fact, you can use our 7-Grain Cereal to liven up countless recipes – muffins, puddings, trail mixes, and just about anything else you can imagine.

Toss our Milled Brown Flaxseed into your favorite lunch salads for a crispy, nutty flavor and whole grain nutrition. Add a tablespoon to your morning smoothies. Salads and smoothies are excellent – and delicious! – ways for getting your daily fruits and vegetables… and our flaxseed helps you get your whole grains with them.

If that doesn’t inspire you, download our free Wheat Montana Cookbook. Inside, you’ll find dozens of recipes from satisfied customers for everything from pancakes and waffles, breads, muffins, soups, salads, desserts, and more.

The point here is that getting your daily whole grains along with other carbohydrates isn’t so difficult. And, as the experts agree, they certainly shouldn’t be avoided. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables should provide your primary sources of quality carbs to ensure that your body is getting a wide spectrum of necessary vitamins and nutrients.

Let us know how you get your healthy carbohydrates. What are your go-to foods rich in healthy carbs? Do you have any favorite recipes? Tips? Share them in the comments!