Are Whole Grains Healthy? Do You NEED Them?
By Chris Albert
**This article is writen through a keto lens because of recent arguments have cited its lack of wiggle room for inclusion of whole grains. That said, this article should be read with any nutritional template or diet protocol in mind.**
Many anti keto commentators argue that paleo and keto dieting is not healthy because people miss out on whole grains. Nevertheless, this argument falls apart when one understands that the keto diet is actually a vegetable heavy diet. The carbs in most green vegetables are actually very high fiber and will not illicit a heavy insulin response, and hence are keto friendly.
As with any nutrition plan, the paradigm never makes the diet. There are plenty of ways to not be healthy while on a keto diet (not eating green vegetables for one), but there are also plenty of ways of not being healthy on a vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or standard American Diet.
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For Raw Data from USDA: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list?fgcd=Branded+Food+Products+Database&ds=Branded+Food+Products
American Heart Association reccs: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HealthyDietGoals/Whole-Grains-and-Fiber_UCM_303249_Article.jsp#.WTXNahPyvEY
American Institute of Cancer Research: http://preventcancer.aicr.org/site/PageServer?pagename=foodsthatfightcancer_whole_grains
Whole grain consumption and all cause mortality study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27301975
Food groups and risk of all cause mortality study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28446499
To see the actual file for any of the data below:
100 GRAMS AND 100 CALORIES OF EACH FOOD. AS YOU CAN SEE, IF YOU EXAMINE 100 GRAMS OF EACH FOOD, WHOLE GRAINS HAVE MORE FIBER BEFORE CALORIES ARE CONTROLLED FOR. NEVERTHELESS, VEGETABLES WIN OUT IN NUTRIENT DENSITY.
HOWEVER, ONCE CALORIES ARE CONTROLLED FOR, KETO-FRIENDLY VEGETABLES ARE MORE FIBER DENSE AND NUTRIENT DENSE.
Parting thoughts: ALL diets should be plant-based diets; I don't mean that in terms of caloric source, but in terms of sheer volume. If you take a diet by weight, or even easier-by spreading out food volume on a plate at the end of the day, vegetables should occupy the largest volume of your food.
Another point of consideration to customize this to your own diet: You don't NEED whole grains. In fact, many don't do well with them, especially those with autoimmune disorders. For many, including whole grains occasionally seems to be fine. Informed tests and n=1 experiments win out here to personalize your health and performance.