Undying Myths about Grains and Carbohydrates

Although Atkins diet is off the radar screen, we still find a high percentage of people who say they are "counting their carbs," as if carbs are a bad food to be limited. Nothing could be farther than the truth.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Study, an ongoing study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows those who consume the most carbohydrates have the lowest Body Mass Index (BMI). For example, women who consumed less than 41.5 percent of their total calories from carbohydrates had an average BMI of just over 26, whereas those who consumed over 60 percent of calories from carbs averaged a BMI under 25. In other words, the more carbohydrates a woman eats -- within her caloric limits, of course   the slimmer she is. The same holds true for men.

Many people, even some dietitians, believe white bread is "bad" and we should only choose whole grain. There is no question whole grain bread is good and we should all be eating 3 oz. each day (three times the amount the average American is currently eating). However, white bread is also good for you. True, it can have less fiber and be lower in some vitamins and minerals found in whole grain bread, but it is the hero in preventing neural tube birth defects: Since folate fortification of enriched grains was mandated in 1998, NTDs decreased by more than a third. There is twice as much folate in white bread than whole grain bread.

Forget old wives' tales about white flour. It has saved a lot of babies and tastes good also. Just make sure you get your three servings of whole grains daily.

- Judi Adams, M.S., R.D. president, Grain Foods Foundation (www.grainpower.org)

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