Do You Know The True Value of Starches?

 

 


grains and potatoes

I’d like to dedicate some time to discuss the value of starches in our diet.  Likely, if you are like so many other people, you are very skeptical of starches.  The old belief that ‘Starches make you fat’ still persists… Yet, that is so far from the truth.

A Paradigm Shift Is Needed

Let’s begin with a simple description of dietary starch.  Starches are best defined as:

“Food that contain adequate amounts of readily available calories in the form of starch molecules.”  Well, this scientific description may not be too helpful.  To explain further, starch molecules are actually made up of long chains of sugars (the molecular sugars, that is), which serve as our body’s basic units for our energy supply.  These chains of sugars are accompanied by just the perfect amounts of protein, essential fat, fiber, water, vitamins and minerals.  So, in this manner, starches actually are the PERFECT food to center your meal around.

Rather than thinking ‘starches make you fat’ — you should actually be highlighting the starches in each meal!  The starches should actually be the source for the majority of your daily calories.  You see, when you couple the healthy starches with vegetables and fruits, which each individually are fairly low in calories, you can see that this newly created meal will be quite healthy indeed.

Which Foods  Are Considered To Be Starches?

There are several way to classify starches, since they truly are a diverse group of foods.  However, to keep things simple, there are basic 6 categories.  The categories are:

  1. Whole Grains
  2. Legumes
  3. Flours
  4. Pastas
  5. Roots
  6. Squashes

So, now addressing each of the categories, let’s explore the variety and flavors of starches.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are fantastic foods to center your meal around.  Rich in fiber and flavor, they easily fill you up.  Here are common whole grains you can eat:

  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • bulgar
  • barley
  • buck
  • corn
  • millet
  • oat
  • rye
  • triticale
  • wheat berries

Legumes

Now the class of legumes may not be fully familiar to those unfamiliar with nutrition.  Surely, you know about beans and peas and lentils – but the actual term ‘legume’ may be one you haven’t heard before.  It is rather simple — legumes is the term used to describe the food group comprised by beans, peas, and lentils.  There is tremendous variety among this group, if you’ve ever explored beyond the common beans and peas.  Here is a sampling of what awaits your discovery:

Beans

  • pinto
  • kidney
  • pink
  • white
  • black
  • lima
  • mung
  • great northern
  • navy
  • adzuke
  • soy
  • garbonzo

Peas

  • whole grean
  • black-eyed
  • split green

Lentils

  • brown
  • red
  • green
  • yellow

Flours

This category is also much, much diverse than most people think.  Many people are only familiar with white or wheat flour. Yet, there is so much more.  With a little bit of creativity in the kitchen, you can make all sorts of different concoctions.  And, if you are not much of a cook or baker, there are lots of varieties to choose from at health food stores.  Here are some of the types of flour available:

  • whole wheat pastry
  • wheat
  • buckwheat
  • oat
  • corn
  • rice
  • soy
  • rye
  • barley
  • triticale
  • garbonzo bean
  • lima bean

Pastas

Everyone loves pasta!  Again there are many more varieties than most people know.  Three types are best — whole wheat, spinach or buckwheat.  Here are some to choose from:

  • spaghetti
  • fettuccini
  • penne
  • macaroni
  • alphabet noodles
  • lasagna noodles
  • many, many more

Roots

These are the starches that actually grow underground, as roots.  They are commonly served as ‘side dishes’ in western diets (think French Fries) — but, they are actually best served as a central part of the meal. Of course, preparing them in a healthy manner is best.  (ie. No frying allowed!)  Here are some examples:

  • white potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • yams
  • rutabaga
  • parsnips
  • taro

Squashes

While many people may think squash are in the same category as potatoes, since they do not grow as a root, they are classified separately.  Squash is a wonderful addition to any meal.  With many flavorful and colorful additions, squash adds a lot of fun.  Here are some examples:

  • butternut
  • spaghetti
  • pumpkin
  • hubbard
  • acorn
  • winter squashes
  • (summer squashes are actually considered to be in the ‘vegetable’ group since the calories are so low these are not recommended to be a central aspect of the meal).

In Summary, Starches Are Perfect Stars For Each Meal

So, there you have it.  Clearly, there is a lot of variety to explore in the Starch Family.  Most importantly, you will be able to eat a satisfying meal, knowing that you are getting the necessary calories needed by your body.  Since you will be eating these foods prepared in a healthy manner, without any oil, you will be able to eat literally as much as you want — and never have to worry about consuming too many calories.  It is a fabulous way to eat, indeed!

Once you give it a try, you too will discover how satisfying a starch-centered meal can be.

Here’s to your improving health — One day at a time!  🙂

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