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It is time to celebrate carbs and instead of bashing them. I discussed all the ways carbs are often villainized in part 1 of this series.  Now, it's time to learn about all the good that comes from eating carbs.

Clinical research ties whole grains and other carbs, such as potatoes and rice, to improved cognitive function, improved memory and focus, decreased risk for diabetes onset, heart disease, colon cancer and polyps, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer and obesity. In fact, consumers who have higher whole grain and complex carb intake have lower body mass indexes. Why is no one telling this to media, or is it too dull to dispel the carb myths currently circulating? Consider recent research:

  • According to the University of Toronto, to reduce cholesterol, adding foods such as oats to your diet may be more effective than cutting dietary fat.
  • Researchers at King's College found that adding breakfast cereals to the diet boosts nutritional intake in low income populations.
  • Daegu University researchers found that a dietary pattern containing grains, vegetables, and fish was inversely associated with the risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • According to research from Yale University, the risk of high blood pressure was 25 percent lower in male doctors who ate whole-grain cereal seven or more times a week.
  • National Cancer Institute has reported that consuming fiber is linked to lower risk of disease.
  • Researchers from Northwestern University found that adults who eat high amounts of fiber are less likely to suffer from heart disease.
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers reported that increasing carbs at dinner may aid with weight loss.
  • Soochow University researchers found that women who ate the greatest amount of healthy plant components were 11 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than women who ate the least.

Beyond health research, consider the playful side of carbs. After all, no meal consists simply of a slab of meat. Focus on their contribution to food and flavor trends.

Begin with some of the single, flirty items now headlining trends and then layer them into flavor and cuisine trends to create a more three-dimensional lifecycle for the item. Consumers are in a playful mood as they try to pull themselves from the economic crisis, so comfort food is not the play to be – I don't care if winter is coming on and neither should you. What I am saying is if you are going to serve mac and cheese - it had better have lobster on it.

Think, instead of global rice, grits from the south, taco shells stuffed with crazy fillings, oatmeal but not for breakfast, popcorn and pretzels but as coatings and not snacks, buckwheat crepes from France with savory filling or chia seeds. Now think single global dishes to inspire you, such as arepas, fattoush, paella, popovers, gourgeres, flat breads, crepes, soups and stews, designer donuts, macarons, pies or gingerbread.

Factions, or families, are another way to add layers to a products story. Factions cross time and borders which is why they act as a family rather than being tied to a time in history or place in the world. They are in fact the gypsies of the food world and are always on the move. Some now in the spotlight are street food, breakfast, vegetarian, global sandwiches, hand pies and snacks.

And finally, find them a home on the plate with others from their neighborhood. Here we have the Rock Stars and the Rising Stars. The Rock Stars are those already on the ground running while the Rising Stars are about to become trendy. The Rock Stars include Soul Food, Korean, Vietnamese, regional Mexican, Peruvian, and eastern bloc Europe (Russia, Czech, Turkey, etc.). The Rising Stars include the Middle East (Lebanon, Israel, etc.), Caribbean & Pacific (Cuba, Jamaica, Fiji, Samoa, French Polynesia, etc.), Central America (Nicaragua, El Salvador, etc.), N. Africa (Morocco, Egypt), Arctic (Scandinavia, Iceland, Alaska, Norway, Siberia, etc.), and the Asian Shift (Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Nepal, etc.)

So celebrate carbohydrates; play with them; be inspired by them, and support them when they are villianized. After all, your products could be the next to be blamed for something unjustly.

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Latest posts by Suzy Badaracco
Suzy Badaracco
Suzy Badaracco is a toxicologist, chef, and registered dietitian. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Criminalistics, an Associates degree in Culinary Arts, and a Masters of Science degree in Human Nutrition.
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