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Why nutritionists agree that one type of carb is really good for you

Erin Brodwin, Anaele Pelisson

Not all carbs are created equal.

A growing body of evidence suggests that whole grains are a key component of a healthy diet. As opposed to their refined cousins, whole grains are an excellent source of fibre (which is key for healthy digestion), protein (which helps fill you up and power your muscles), and several key vitamins and minerals.

In fact, the plant-based diet, which has been increasingly championed by nutritionists and dietitians as the best for your brain and body, has whole grains as one if its cornerstones.

Whole grains vs. 'stripped carbs'

The key difference between whole grains and processed carbohydrates -- like white rice and the wheat in white bread -- is that the latter has had its nutritious, fibre-rich outer shells, such as the germ and bran, stripped out in a factory. The end result is soft bread, smooth rice, and sweet cereal that gets processed by the body almost as quickly as it was ingested.

But while refined carbs may taste delicious, experts agree that they don't belong in a healthy diet. Whereas their whole-grain counterparts get digested slowly and fill you up for hours, refined carbs are processed quickly by the body and rapidly turned into sugar.

This is why those ingredients can contribute to weight gain, according to Roxanne B. Sukol, a preventive medicine specialist and the medical director of the Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Enterprise. In the book "Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America," Sukol told author and chef Michael Ruhlman that people should think of things like white rice and white bread simply as "stripped carbs."

Why plant-based diets are good for the body

Healthy eating

give a temporary fix," she said.