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How to eat carbs without putting on pounds.

By Sarah Kilvington

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While a good part of the world is getting their main calories from starchy carbs, like white rice and cassava, while managing to stay slim and healthy, we’re over here like WHAAAAT? I hear it all the time; Why are people in Asian countries so healthy, not to mention slim, when they consume so much of something we are told is unhealthy for you? Yes, white rice is “refined” to remove the fiber and what you’re left with is a whole lot of insulin stimulating, high GI carbs. But, it’s what they eat along side it that is responsible for the non damaging effects of high blood sugar and insulin.

Vinegar is used heavily in Asian recipes, whether it’s on rice, in one of their many pickled condiments, in soups or in sauces. It has been used throughout many recipes for centuries as a flavor enhancer. But that’s not all it’s good for. In this study, , acetic acid, the main acid in vinegar, is shown to reduce the Glycemic Index of otherwise high glycemic foods, allowing for a smaller insulin release and therefore less fat storage. (If you’re not familiar with the GI index, it’s simply a way to describe how likely a particular food is to increase your blood sugar and trigger a corresponding insulin spike. With fiber-less, white, and mostly refined foods at the top of the list, these are the ones to stay away from or eat less of, such as short grain white rice, white bread, some potatoes, and crackers.)

Eating vinegar containing foods alongside your carbs can lower the fat storage that comes along with an increase in insulin. Some other acids have GI reducing super powers as well such as lactic acid, found in dairy or naturally fermented vegetables, citric acid from citrus fruits, or my favorite, tartaric acid, found in wine. Perhaps this is why the Mediterranean, diet which includes wine with many meals, can still consist of bread and pasta, whereas when I touch a noodle I gain 5 pounds.

And while your health should not solely be based around your weight, the effects of raised insulin doesn’t stop at fat storage. It has also been tied to insulin resistance causing chronic inflammation which leads to many health problems such as:

  • obesity
  • acne/exzema
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • headaches
  • depression
  • PMS
  • menopause symptoms

So the takeaway is if you want to eat your starchy carbs periodically and not feel like you are taking two steps back health wise, it’s best to take a hint from our healthier counterparts and enjoy them with a vinegar based sauce, pickled or fermented veggies, or with a glass of wine.

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