Naturally White Foods vs Refined White Foods

According to the American Heart Association, low fiber diets increase risk of heart disease, the leading cause of complication and death in diabetes. White refined foods increase insulin resistance, which is a precursor to, as well as a component of type 2 diabetes (T2D).

When we consider eating typical white refined foods such as white bread and white flour products, white rice or white sugar products, we should think about keeping them to a minimum for several reasons. Also included in this category are packaged, boxed and bagged products such as white macaroni, sugary dry cereals and snack foods. These products may contain trans-fats, partially hydrogenated oils, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) - a flavor enhancer high in sodium. None of these products are good for anyone. Think in moderate portions or at least cutting down on the overall amounts. Why?

These products are refined and bleached. When a product is refined, it is stripped of its fiber. The germ and bran parts are removed from the original wheat flour which increases the white breads shelf life. Fiber is crucial to good nutrition - especially for people with diabetes; without the fiber and the removal of the natural vitamins and minerals, there is little nutrition left. Enriched or synthetic vitamins are then added back which are not as beneficial as the original ones.

White refined/bleached foods get into the blood stream quickly and cause insulin levels to rise. The refining process removes the germ, hull and bran portion; this will affect the blood sugar in a negative way. Usually, within two hours, you are hungry again. The cycle becomes not feeling satisfied, repeat hunger, eating more refined food, increased insulin response, weight gain, over and over.

Fiber in its natural state helps you to stay full longer and be more satiated with less insulin rise and a slower response. Fiber also helps to lower blood cholesterol.

Fiber in its natural state also aids in proper digestion and reduces colon cancer. White bread is refined and then bleached. The bleaching process removes the yellow color to make it look more pure and appealing. Alloxan is a chemical that bleaches the flour, which reacts with the wheat protein and makes it look white. Alloxan has been studied on animals and it has shown that it creates free radicals, which reduces insulin production; it is still being studied in humans to see if it produces the same response.

Remember, not all white foods are created equal. Stick to natural white foods such as cauliflower, garlic, cucumbers and egg whites. See, there are lots of white foods to still enjoy! Eat them and stay healthy!

Modified from: Roberta Kleinman, ADW, February 29, 2012