Are Carbs The Best Brain Food?

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August 26, 2015

Are Carbs The Best Brain Food?

Many people associate carbs with weight gain, but British researchers suggest some of these foods are actually fuel for the brain.

Carbohydrates are a rich source of energy and can be very nutrient dense. But many of us associate carbs with weight gain and believe we should be cutting back to lose weight. A new study, published in The Quarterly Review of Biology, is postulating that carbs might be excellent food for our brain. A group of British researchers thinks that once ancient humans learned to cook starchy foods like root vegetables, the calorie bump might have fueled the evolution of the human brain.

Carbs, particularly long chains of the simple sugar glucose or starches, are an ideal food for fueling the brain, says evolutionary geneticist at University College London Mark Thomas. "The brain has an absolute requirement for glucose.” And with carbohydrate-rich food, the body doesn't need to spend extra energy converting the other macronutrients into glucose to feed the brain.

So what are some of SupermarketGuru’s favorite healthy carbs?

Sweet Potato: Sweet potatoes might taste sweet, but actually have a very low impact on blood sugar. They are a powerhouse of nutrition, rich in vitamins A, C, B vitamins as well as fiber, potassium and more. Sweet potatoes are also rich in anti-inflammatory compounds, helping to keep pain at bay. Enjoy sweet potatoes with some olive oil, butter, ghee, coconut oil or fat of your choice, to absorb more of the fat-soluble vitamins.

Quinoa: Quinoa is a very good source of nutrition, specifically rich in magnesium and iron. Magnesium is important for muscle relaxation, building and strengthening bones as well as benefiting the circulatory system. Iron plays the essential role of helping to carry oxygen to the heart, lungs and brain as well as throughout the body. Along with magnesium and iron, quinoa boasts a whole host of other nutrients, antioxidants and bioactive compounds as well as being rich in fiber.

Khorasan Wheat also called Kamut: An ancient wheat variety that is super nutrient dense, kamut has been studied for it’s benefits on cholesterol and blood sugar as well as helping with inflammatory markers in the blood. In addition, it contains up to 40 percent more protein than modern wheat as well as an impressive amount of magnesium, zinc, selenium and vitamin E.

Buckwheat: Contains various flavonoids that provide powerful antioxidant protection against free radicals in the body. Buckwheat is gluten free (despite its name!) and is a rich source of manganese, magnesium and fiber. It has been shown to support a healthy cardiovascular system and is rich in soluble fiber showing benefits for gallstone prevention.

Brown rice: Rich in fiber, selenium, manganese, magnesium and B vitamins, brown rice is an optimal carbohydrate choice, especially when given the option of brown or white rice. Selenium is essential for metabolism and has been shown to be cancer protective, fiber is critical for colon health and can even help lower cholesterol. Manganese plays an important role in the nervous system and B vitamins have a huge role in energy production! Many of the health benefits are lost when brown rice is milled into white rice.

Resources:
NPR
WH Foods