Cereals are often completely banned in a low-carb diet. However, different types of cereals are rich in fiber and you can enjoy them in moderation as part of a healthy and plant-based diet. This is because high-fiber foods contain fewer net carbohydrates, which is the number of carbohydrates the body absorbs. Here are some of the best low-carbohydrate cereals, plus some others that you might want to limit with a low-carb diet.
Cereals in a low-carb diet
Oats are highly nutritious and an excellent source of many important minerals, including fiber. A 1-cup (33 grams) portion of cooked oats contains more than 8 grams of dietary fiber and only 21 grams of net carbohydrates, so it is a great cereal for a low-carb diet. Oats are also rich in beta-glucan. Research has shown that this is type of fiber reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. In addition, it is an excellent source of many other micronutrients, including manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and thiamine.
Although technically classified as a pseudocereal, quinoa is often prepared and enjoyed as a cereal. Quinoa is rich in antioxidants and beneficial polyphenols and is part of a low carb diet since in a portion of 1 cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa there are only 34 grams of net carbohydrates. Quinoa is also one of the few complete vegetable-based protein sources, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body needs to get from food sources. Besides, quinoa is rich in other key nutrients, including manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and folate.
Millet is a type of ancient wheat grown all over the world. Like other whole grains, millet is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, which can help prevent chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Millet is also a good source of fiber and relatively low in net carbohydrates, making it an excellent addition to a healthy and low-carb diet. A 1-cup portion (174 grams) of cooked millet contains over 2 grams of fiber and 39 grams of net carbohydrates (15 reliable sources). Millet is also rich in a variety of other vitamins and minerals, including phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and folic acid.
Couscous is a product based on cereals typically processed from semolina flour or durum wheat. A staple in many Middle Eastern and Moroccan dishes, couscous has a relatively low carbohydrate content, with about 34.5 grams of net carbohydrates in each 1-cup portion (157 grams) of cooked couscous (16 reliable sources). It is also rich in selenium, a trace mineral that plays a crucial role in heart health, thyroid function, immune health, and more (16 Reliable sources, 17 Reliable sources). Adding couscous to your diet can also increase your intake of many other important micronutrients, including pantothenic acid, manganese, copper, and thiamine.
Barley is a nutritious cereal that stands out for its hazelnut flavor and chewy and distinctive texture. Barley is also rich in fiber, with 6.5 grams, and is part of a diet with few carbohydrates since it contains about 41.5 grams of net carbohydrates in each portion of 1 cup (170 grams) of cooked barley (27 reliable sources). In addition, cooked barley is an excellent source of selenium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and copper.
Although many low-carb diets do not eliminate cereals, many varieties can adapt to a healthy and carbohydrate-controlled diet. Many types of cereals are rich in fiber and poor in net carbohydrates, which is the number of carbohydrates the body absorbs. To get the best results, make sure you select varieties of whole grains and avoid grains that have been heavily processed or refined when possible.
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