Power Up Your Heart and Your Day with the Right Carbs!

Being sources of carbohydrates, our main source of energy, rice and noodles help to fuel our brain, kidney, heart muscles and central nervous system. Although carbohydrates have had a bad reputation over the years, there is no reason to avoid carbohydrates and they should be included as part of a heart-healthy balanced diet.

Choose the right portion of carbohydrates by following the SHF heart smart eating plate concept of ¼ plate of wholegrains, ¼ plate with lean protein such as lean meat, fish, tofu, beans and ½ plate of fruit and vegetables.

 

What are the right types of carbohydrates?
  • Foods with no added sugars
    Simple carbohydrates, such as naturally occurring sugars (e.g. fruit, milk and dairy products) are digested quickly, causing immediate bursts and spikes of glucose (energy) in our bloodstream. These foods also contain vitamins, minerals and fibre, which are more nutritious for the body.
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  • Foods high in fibre
    Complex carbohydrates, such as wholegrains (e.g. brown rice, wholegrain noodles or pasta, oatmeal, millet, quinoa), starchy vegetables (e.g. sweet potato, pumpkin, beetroot), legumes and beans, are digested slower and supply a gentler rise in blood glucose levels, providing a steady release of energy. They are rich in fibre, which has been shown to provide numerous health benefits pertaining to digestive health, weight management, blood glucose control, and capabilities to lower the risks of heart diseases and cancers. They also contain B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium and selenium that promote good health.

Fun fact: Wholegrain rice is not limited to only brown rice – it can also come in black, purple and red rice! Hence, delve into a colourful world of rice by creating rainbow-inspired dishes, while exploring a variety of textures and flavours.

How can you introduce wholegrains to your family?

There are endless ways to enjoy wholegrains. Start by introducing these wholegrains into your daily diet.

  • Unpolished Rice
    Replace half a portion of white rice with unpolished (brown, red or black) rice whilst cooking rice to slowly increase your wholegrain intake. If your family is very averse to unpolished rice, you can even start with less than a quarter portion of unpolished rice.
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  • Wholegrain Pasta
    Mix a portion of your regular white pasta with brown rice fusilli or buckwheat spaghetti for texture. Flavour up with pure tomato puree, onions, garlic, fresh cilantro, basil and opt for a heart-healthier oil such as olive oil whilst whipping up that delicious pasta dish.
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  • Brown Rice Congee
    Nothing beats a warm bowl of comforting congee. Traditionally white rice is used, however experiment using brown rice for a heartier, healthier porridge, while providing a subtle nutty flavour. Complete the meal with hearty vegetables such as shiitakes, leeks, sprouts and/or a mix of proteins such as lean meat, fish, tofu and a sprinkle of coriander and spring onions.
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  • Fried Brown Rice
    Whip up a bowl of fried rice using wholegrains! With its high fibre content, it prevents the rice from getting clumpy. Complete the meal with aromatic ingredients such as garlic, green onions, spices such as pepper, and red pepper flakes, your favourite protein, such as eggs, lean meats, beans, or vegetables, and end off with some sesame seeds for added texture.

This article was first published on Singapore Heart Foundation’s website here.