Researchers now link vitality, disease prevention, and healthier teeth with whole grains like brown rice. Substituting bad carbohydrates with good is easy, and it may just help you live longer!
Comments by Dr. Ted Herrmann DMD
Everyone knows that carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy. The popular whole grain cereal Wheaties pushed this idea with their “Breakfast of Champions” slogan in the 1930s, though most of us remember the campaign from the early 90s.
Not all carbohydrates are created equally, however. Some carbohydrates contain only one or two sugar molecules and are appropriately labeled simple sugars. The best known of these simple sugars, table sugar, is most likely in your kitchen pantry. Other carbohydrates are made up of long chains of these simple sugars and, because of their increased molecular complexity, are referred to as complex carbohydrates. Brown rice, barley, and other whole grains are good examples of these robust, nutrient-dense carbohydrates.
Simple or Complex?
On paper, complex carbohydrates beat their simple counterparts by an astonishing margin. Complex carbohydrates contain more nutrients, have greater energy potential, have a smaller affect on blood sugar levels, and do less harm to your teeth and gums over time. Simple sugars, by contrast, have almost no nutritional value, are not a good source of sustainable energy, largely affect blood sugar levels, and can cause plaque buildup on teeth that eventually leads to decay. Though simple sugars win us over because of their sweet taste, a closer look reveals that replacing simple sugars with complex carbohydrates has enough health benefits to silence even the loudest screaming sweet tooth.
First, complex carbohydrates contain large amounts of B vitamins. B vitamins, when combined with adequate amounts of water and protein, work to increase your body’s metabolism. That means more energy! For the curious readers out there, I urge you to take a closer look at any of the dozens of energy drinks that have popped up in the past five years. You will notice a common ingredient in almost all of them: B vitamins. Complex carbohydrate foods, though, are still a much better option for many reasons: They will satiate your hunger, they contain fiber to promote digestive health, and they offer a high caloric content for prolonged energy.
In addition to carrying loads of B vitamins, complex carbohydrates promote overall wellness from the standpoint of disease prevention. Natural News, a website dedicated to the latest in natural living, health, and news, recently reported on a Temple University study that identified a compound in brow rice—a poster child for complex carbohydrates—as having the ability to lower blood pressure, an essential step towards preventing heart disease.[i]
Finally, complex carbohydrates are not as problematic for your teeth and gums. Simple sugars, especially those found in massive quantities in juices and soft drinks, have a knack for gathering on a tooth’s enamel and forming plaque. This plaque provides an ideal place for bacteria to breed and infect both the tooth and gums, leading to a host of adverse dental conditions. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, contain fewer grams of sugar per serving and are less corrosive to tooth enamel.
The benefits of a diet consisting largely of complex carbohydrates are numerous. Moreover, adjusting your diet to contain fewer simple sugars and more complex carbohydrates is easy. To start, here are the three most common “bad” carbohydrates and corresponding “good” carbohydrates to replace them with:
1) White bread: Replace with 100% Whole Wheat, or other similar Multigrain breads
2) White rice: Replace with Brown Rice or 100% Whole Wheat pasta
3) Candy: Replace with sugar free gum, decaffeinated tea, or a small glass of juice
A local Miami dentist can provide you with further information on the benefits of balancing your diet with good carbohydrates. Certified nutritionists can also help you build a nutrition plan rich in varied, healthy foods. At Assure a Smile, you will receive both. Take advantage of our new patient Miami dental cleaning special and learn more about healthy teeth and gum care, holistic wellness, and the importance of a balanced diet.