They're packed with fiber, minerals, B vitamins, and more.
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whole-wheat tagliatelle with creamy white-bean and kale sauce
Credit: Ryan Liebe

Carbs are often seen as the enemy, but they're actually our allies. Reams of research show that a diet rich in whole grains—which contain the fiber-and-nutrient-packed germ—can reduce the risk of diabetes, coronary disease, stroke, and some cancers. That's in part because fiber improves digestion and slows the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream. Whole grains also bring minerals and B vitamins to the plate, says registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner. And a host of studies suggest that the magnesium in whole-grain flour may reduce insulin sensitivity. Even if you avoid gluten for health reasons, options abound; consider the power list below.

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To get the most nutrients from your noodles, look for those made from whole grains, which bring something extra to the table. In the case of the Khorasan-wheat tagliatelle shown above, that's magnesium, selenium, and potassium. It's tossed in a kale "pesto" (the greens are puréed with olive oil and cannellini beans until creamy) and topped with sliced almonds for a plant-based protein boost. Our Whole-Wheat Tagliatelle with Creamy White-Bean and Kale Sauce, seen above, is a recipe you'll want to add to your dinner rotation.

More Types to Fuel Up On

Another reason to replace white rice, flour, and pasta with whole grains? Ninety-five percent of Americans don't get enough of that fiber they're packed with. Avoid labels that say "pearlized," a process that strips some of the good stuff.

  • Amaranth: Pop it like popcorn kernels to add crunch (and protein, magnesium, iron, and selenium) to salads.
  • Black Rice: The dramatic color of black rice comes from purple anthocyanins, a kind of antioxidant.
  • Fonio: A drought-resistant type of millet from West Africa, fonio cooks up fast and fluffy.
  • Quinoa: A go-to for nutritionists, quinoa also has all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein on its own.
  • Whole-Grain Cornmeal: In the Caribbean, whole-grain cornmeal is cooked and sprinkled with pumpkin-pie spices for antioxidant-rich porridge.

Art Direction by James Maikowski; Food Styling by Laura Rege; Prop Styling by Tanya Graff

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