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Low-Carb Grains: 8 Healthiest Ideas For Low-Carb Dieters In 2023
In recent years, low-carbohydrate diets have gained immense popularity thanks to their potential benefits for weight loss, blood sugar management, and overall health. Grains are often associated with high carbohydrate content, so they are typically the first foods eliminated on low-carb diets. The good news is that several low-carb grains can be incorporated into a carb-restricted diet without compromising on taste and texture.
This article will delve into the world of low-carb, discuss their health benefits, explore some of the best low-carb grains available, and provide alternatives for those looking to reduce grain intake.
Top 8 Healthiest Low-Carb Grains
Although grains tend to be higher in carbs, there are plenty of alternatives for those following a low-carb diet. Some of the best low-carb grains to add to your low-carb diet are:
- Air Popped Popcorn.
- Wild Rice.
- Rye Bread.
8 Best Low-Carb Grains For Dieters
Here are eight of the best low-carb grains for low-carb dieters:
Quinoa is a versatile, gluten-free grain that’s naturally rich in protein, fiber, and other important nutrients. It has a nutty flavor and a slightly chewy texture when cooked.
Quinoa is considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. With approximately 20 grams of carbs per one-half-cup serving, quinoa is a nutrient-dense grain. It can be enjoyed as a main or side dish, in salads, or as a substitute for white rice or brown rice.
Air Popped Popcorn
With just six grams of carbs per cup, popcorn can be included in many low-carb diets. It’s low in calories and contains many essential amino acids and nutrients, such as iron, B vitamins, and phosphorus. Additionally, you can opt for air-popped popcorn to eliminate unnecessary oil or butter.
Wild rice is a nutrient-dense grain that has a unique, full-bodied flavor. Despite its name, wild rice is not technically a type of rice but rather the seed of an aquatic grass. It has a higher protein and fiber content than many other grains and offers a variety of essential nutrients, including magnesium and phosphorus. And one half-cup serving of cooked wild rice provides under 18 grams of carbs.
Rye bread is a low-carb whole, grain bread alternative to traditional white bread. It is made from rye flour, which has a lower net carb content than wheat flour or cracked wheat berries. It provides a rich flavor and hearty texture that pairs well with smoked salmon, cold cuts, cheese, and jams.
Rye bran provides about 16 grams of carbs per slice, making it a good low-carb alternative when eaten in moderation.
Oats are an extremely popular grain known for their high fiber content and numerous health benefits. They are a good source of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels.
Although oats are higher in net carbs than other low-carb cereals and grains, people following a low-carb diet can still enjoy them in moderation. Opt for steel-cut or rolled oats over instant oatmeal for a lower glycemic impact. One half-cup serving of rolled oats provides approximately 27 grams of carbs. Instead of instant oats, consider making overnight oats.
Despite its name, buckwheat is unrelated to wheat and does not contain gluten. It is a highly nutritious grain-like seed rich in fiber, protein, and essential nutrients, including manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Buckwheat is an ancient grain with a nutty flavor and a slightly chewy texture. One half-cup serving provides approximately 16 grams of carbs.
Millet is another ancient grain that’s rich in fiber and nutrients. It has a slightly nutty flavor and can be used as a base for pilafs, bowls, salads, or porridge.
It has a relatively higher net carb count than other low-carb grains, so it should be consumed moderately on a low-carb diet. Still, one half-cup serving of cooked millet provides just over 20 grams of total carbs.
Cooked Barley is a hearty whole grain that’s rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. With approximately 22 grams of carbs per half-cup serving, it is higher in carbs than other low-carb grains. Still, it can be included in moderation in soups, stews, or salads.
Which Diets Can You Add Low-Carb Grains To?
Low-carb grains can be a valuable addition to diets that prioritize low-carbohydrate intake. Let’s take a look at a few popular diets where these types of grains can be incorporated:
The ketogenic diet, commonly known as the keto diet, is an extremely low-carb, high-fat diet that uses specific foods to force the body into a state of ketosis. While most grains are restricted in this diet due to their high carb content, certain keto grains can still be enjoyed in moderation.
The Paleolithic or Paleo diet focuses on consuming foods our ancestors would have eaten during the Paleolithic era. This means prioritizing whole, unprocessed foods, such as lean meats, fish, veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds while avoiding refined grains, legumes, dairy, and highly-processed foods. For those following a paleo diet, grain-free flour can be a suitable alternative for cooking and baking.
Benefits Of Adding Low-Carb Grains To Your Diet
Despite being low in carbohydrates, low-carb grains offer numerous health benefits when incorporated into a balanced diet. Here are five science-backed advantages of adding grains to your diet:
Increased Fiber Intake
Low-carb grains, such as quinoa, chia seeds, and flax seeds, are a good source of fiber. Fiber is fundamental to digestive health, promoting regular bowel movements and supporting overall gut health. The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults consume 28-34 grams of fiber daily, depending on sex and age.
Low-carb grains are often packed with essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For example, quinoa is a good source of magnesium, iron, and B vitamins, while chia seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and fiber. Incorporating the healthiest carb grains into your diet can help you diversify your nutrient intake and support overall health and well-being.
Satiety And Weight Management
One of the main benefits of low-carb or carb-free grains is their ability to promote feelings of fullness and satisfaction after eating. The high fiber content in low-carb grains helps slow digestion, keeping you fuller for longer and reducing overeating.
Blood Sugar Control
Low-carb grains, as part of a carb-controlled diet, can be a smart choice for individuals with diabetes or insulin resistance. These grains have a lower impact on blood sugar than higher-carb alternatives due to their lower glycemic index.
The Lowest-Carb Food Alternatives To Grains
While healthy whole grains can be included in a balanced diet, those following a low-carb approach may want to explore alternatives. A few substitutes can help satisfy your cravings and support your low-carb diet:
- Cauliflower rice.
- Zucchini noodles.
- Spaghetti squash.
- Lettuce wraps.
- Almond flour.
- Coconut flour.
- Shirataki noodles.
- Greens superfood powder.
A Variety Of Diets
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Incorporating healthy low-carb grains into your diet can be beneficial if you follow a low-carb eating plan. These grains offer a variety of flavors, textures, and nutritional benefits without compromising your carbohydrate goals.
Low-carb grains provide essential nutrients, dietary fiber, and even plant-based protein. They can support digestion, enhance satiety, and help stabilize blood sugar levels. Remember, a healthy diet is not defined by excluding certain foods but by including nutrient-dense foods that support your overall health. By mindfully incorporating low-carb into your diet, you can enjoy their benefits while maintaining your carb-controlled diet.
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