Mother was right. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day-and this is especially true for people with diabetes. That’s because skipping breakfast can lead to problems regulating blood sugar levels throughout the day. Missing the morning meal can cause an increase in the body’s insulin response, which may result in weight gain. And extra pounds, as we all know, is something people with diabetes want to avoid. Eating a healthy breakfast can also help you control your appetite and lead to better food choices throughout the day. Nourishing your body in the morning means you won’t be famished by lunchtime, which can make it tempting to grab the most convenient and calorie-laden foods.
With reminders posted everywhere, from that box of cereal on your breakfast table to the newspaper you’re reading while eating it, most of us already know that whole grains help support a balanced, healthy diet1. But, while traditional whole grains such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice are already finding their way into your shopping cart, consider reaching for a new-to-you whole grain, such as amaranth, buckwheat, teff, or freekeh. Here’s why:
Let’s start with a refresher on grains, shall we? A grain contains three parts: endosperm, bran and germ. Whole grains, such as buckwheat, corn, rice, and wheat, contain all three parts of the grain, while refined grains, such as white flour and white rice, only contain the endosperm, with the bran and germ mechanically removed. While the bran and germ deliver a heartier, sometimes denser product, when compared to their light and fluffy refined counterpart, their nutrient profile is far superior. Without the bran and germ you lose essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, all very important to maintaining a healthy diet.2
Just when we thought whole grains were the best choice, along came “supergrains.” These grains go above and beyond in the nutrition department, and are offer not only nutrients but a variety of health benefits, thanks to their high fiber and low-glycemic index level3. Let’s take a closer look at two that are showing recent rise in popularity: teff and freekeh
What it is:
Native to Ethiopia and Eritrea, teff is an extremely tiny member of the genus Eragrostis (lovegrass) grain. Teff thrives in harsh weather conditions, through flood and drought alike, at sea level and altitudes upwards of 3000 meters. Thanks to its ability to thrive and at various climates, this crop is now grown everywhere from the mountains of Idaho, to the dry lands of India, to the wet Netherlands4.
Because this grain is so tiny, it cannot be processed or refined, meaning it’s always eaten in whole grain form.5 And, despite their tiny size, each kernel offers a big nutritional bite. Teff is high in calcium and vitamin C, as well as resistant starch – a type of dietary fiber proven to help maintain blood sugar levels, benefit colon health, and support healthy weight management.6
Ethiopian teff is commonly used as an edible plate in the form of a large crepe-like pancake called Injera. Its light, slightly sweet taste makes teff flour a great swap for white flour for homemade crepes, or in your pancake batter. When not ground, teff has a similar consistency to poppy seeds and is great when sprinkled on top of soups and salads for a nutritional boost! And, those with celiac disease can also enjoy, as this grain is also gluten-free!7
What it is:
Native to the Middle East, this supergrain is actually derived from wheat, but harvested when the crop is green and under-ripe, then roasted and dried before processing. By harvesting at this young stage the highest nutritional profile is captured.8
In terms of protein and calories, ounce for ounce, this grain is quite similar to quinoa, but yields a slightly higher content of each per serving. However, while protein and calories per serving may be almost equivalent to quinoa, this grain offers twice the fiber, a nutrient important for digestive health, heart health, and weight management.9
Swap freekeh for pasta in your next salad dish, use in place of rice or quinoa for your favorite pilaf, or stir into your favorite soup. Do take note that while teff is a gluten-free food, freekeh is not.
As a registered dietitian and Regional Educator with Vega, Kim has a passion for teaching the power of nutrient dense, plant based foods. She helps her audiences to understand health in an approachable way–with plenty of laughter and stories. As a runner, with advanced degrees in both nutrition science and public health, Kim loves to inspire others through her creative recipes, personal experience, and engaging training events.
Contributed content by Vega’s Nutrition Team whose mission is to be inspirational industry leaders to actively improve knowledge of the plant-based lifestyle. Since 2001, Vega has established itself as the leader in the plant-based natural health and performance products industry. Formulated by Brendan Brazier, vegan former professional Ironman triathlete and creator of Thrive Forward, the Vega brand is internally recognized. For more information, please visit www.myvega.com
They don`t always work well together…
In segments or as juice, they are the perfect breakfast food, rounding off the first meal of the day with a dash of citrus and making us feel fresher and healthier. But taken with medications, grapefruit can cause problems and may in fact be dangerous. Here’s why: Grapefruit, and many other citrus fruits such as Seville oranges and pomelos (present in marmalades and compotes), contain compounds known as furanocoumarins that interfere with the enzymes which break down and destroy some of the ingested medication. READ MORE
Worldwide, 8.3% of people have diabetes, and another 6.4% have prediabetes. In Canada, approximately one in four people has either diabetes or prediabetes. It is one of the most common non-contagious diseases and is a health crisis around the globe. By 2030 it’s estimated that 552 million people will have diabetes.
Diabetes is dangerous. If left uncontrolled it can cause kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, blindness, amputation and an early death. There is no cure for diabetes, but following a healthy eating plan, exercising regularly, managing stress and understanding your medications can help you live a balanced life with this disease. “The Diabetes Prevention and Management Cookbook” is a perfect blend of information, advice and recipes to help achieve this balanced lifestyle. READ MORE
We eat food for energy and nutrients. That’s where fibre is unique. It doesn’t give us either in the traditional sense, yet it does so very much!
Fibre (also called dietary fibre) is one of the healthy compounds in plants. Humans cannot fully digest fibre, but that is how it provides many benefits. As it moves through the body relatively unchanged, fibre promotes a healthy cholesterol level, a sense of fullness (satiety), regular bowel movements and can help manage blood glucose levels. Fibre is also food for the billions of bacteria in our lower intestine. There are two main types of fibre, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is found in oats, barley, apples, strawberries and citrus fruits, legumes, okra, eggplant and psyllium-enriched cereals. Insoluble fiber, also known as “roughage” is found in wheat bran and whole grain breads, cereals and pastas. You do not need a specific mix or proportion of soluble and insoluble fiber. Instead, eat a variety of high fiber foods to enjoy all the benefits.
We’ve all heard about the benefits of increasing fibre in our diets: improved regularity, greater digestive health, lower cholesterol, and better control of blood sugar. Fibre also contributes to a greater feeling of fullness, which can help control appetite – an important step to achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. Optimal fibre intake can even reduce the risk of certain cancers. But what is fibre, anyway, and how does it do all of these wonderful things? Most importantly, how do we increase fibre in our diet when the options are so endless?