By now most people are aware of the health benefits of consuming high-quality fats such as coconut oil, avocados, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, olives, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, and cod liver oil just to name a few. Some of the benefits of consuming healthy fats include better brain health, heart health, decreased inflammation, and healthy hormonal balance. A nutritional plan deficient in healthy fats or proteins will compromise the health and performance of the human body. The same is true of carbohydrates.
The three main categories of macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Macronutrients are required for growth and development by living organisms. When you cut out a macronutrient like fat, protein and carbohydrates from your diet, you are bound to have a macro problem. Not only is a carb-free or low-carb diet not sustainable long-term but it can also contribute to nutrient deficiencies.
Unfortunately, all carbohydrates tend to be lumped into the same category and many people believe this essential macronutrient to be the main culprit behind weight gain. However, it’s important to understand that not all carbohydrates are created equal and don’t react in the body the same way. Some carbohydrates provide essential nutrients and energy while some carbohydrates make you feel sluggish and more likely to overeat.
The health benefits of consuming high-quality carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, ancient grains, starchy carbohydrates, and legumes, include better gut health, pH balance, greater energy, healthy elimination and digestion, better sleep, lower blood pressure, decreased inflammation, lower oxidation, cancer fighting properties, improved brain function, and better mood.
There are actually certain nutrients you can only get from carbohydrates. Ancient grains like amaranth, millet, farro, teff, spelt, buckwheat, freekeh, bulgur, quinoa, oats, wild rice, and various sprouted grains provide digestion boosting fiber, cancer- fighting antioxidants, calming magnesium, and B vitamins needed for better hormonal health and energy. Sweet potatoes, red skin potatoes and russet potatoes naturally boost serotonin and make you feel happy and satisfied. Fruits clean the body, aid digestion, and provide gut boosting pre-probiotics. Vegetables such as leafy greens are loaded in immune boosting vitamin C and DNA building folate. Many people who restrict these foods suffer from poor sleep, low energy, colds, flu, constipation, and even depression. Children, pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to avoid low-carb diets as they won’t provide the essential nutrients and calories needed for growth and development.
The New Superfood of 2019
On Target Living, a global health and performance company travels the world helping people discover the power of feeling their best through their healthy and simple lifestyle approach, believe that ancient grains are predicted to be the new superfood of 2019. Their team of health professionals help numerous organizations improve performance and lower health care costs while teaching individuals how to lose weight, lower risk of disease, and improve overall health and well-being through their speaking engagements and education.
You can think of ancient grains as whole grains that have been largely unchanged for the last thousands of years—they have the bran, germ and endosperm all intact and pack a very nutritious punch. You can literally trace ancient grains back to the beginnings of time (hence why they are called ancient). Refined grains on the other hand are those that have had the bran and germ removed through processing such as white flour, instant oats, and quick rice, just to name a few.
Whole grains contain many B vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. Thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin help your body efficiently break down carbohydrates to use for energy. Folic acid, also known as folate or vitamin B-9, supports the formation and maintenance of new cells. These super grains also contain essential vitamins such as potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. Potassium supports normal heart function, helping to control blood pressure. Magnesium helps absorb calcium and relax the mind and body helping to improve sleep. Zinc is important for cell metabolism and hormonal balance, while iron is needed to produce proteins and enzymes necessary for the body.
In general, grains serve as a good source of energy and brain food. Did you know that your body actually needs at least 400 calories a day from grains for optimal brain function? Here are some healthy and delicious carbohydrate focused dishes to help you live your best self this new year.
Simple Smoothie Bowl
2 cups of frozen sweet dark cherries
1 frozen banana, sliced
4 pitted dates, chopped
1⁄4 cup of natural almond butter
1⁄4- 1⁄2 cup coconut water
2 tablespoons On Target Living cacao nibs
1⁄4 cup of Kirkland blueberries
2 tablespoons shredded coconut
1⁄2 cup of your favorite granola (Healthy granola recipes featured in the Target To Table cookbook)
Add frozen cherries, frozen banana, dates, almond butter, and ¼ cup of coconut water to a blender or food processor and blend to mix. Use more coconut water for a thinner consistency. Add mixture to a deep bowl and top with blueberries, coconut, and granola.
2 cups of farro
4 cups of water or organic chicken broth
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup of cucumbers, chopped
1/4 cup of red onion, diced
1/4 cup of Greek olives, sliced
1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Feta cheese, crumbed for topper
Add farro and water or broth to a large sauce pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until farro is cooked and liquid is absorbed. Drain if necessary.
Add cooked farro to a large mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients. Toss to mix and top with crumbled feta cheese.
Oatmeal On The Run
1/2 cup of rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons walnuts (or any nuts)
2/3 cup of almond or coconut milk (just enough to cover the oat mixture)
Combine dry ingredients in a small travel container and mix to incorporate. Pour nut milk over oat mixture just to cover. Let soak overnight in the refrigerator. Grab and go in the morning.