Looking for the comfort factor, or ease of preparation pasta has so generously offered us for decades, but would like to skip on feeling like a slug following the meal, and know you’ve made a health promoting swap? Look no further than this month’s feature food: Soba Noodles.
Soba noodles made from buckwheat, are unbleached and come from the milling of the whole grain (germ, bran and all). They are a stable, complex carbohydrate and complete grain. They are better suited to slowly release energy (glucose) into your bloodstream at a more controlled rate, thus allowing you to utilize their energy more effectively and sustainably, without needing to take a nap 2 hours after the meal! After eating Soba noodles, you’ll notice an absence of the “heavy” feeling that we usually associate with pasta meals. Just make sure you’re still practicing portion control. I can’t prevent post-meal napping if you eat your way through three plates…
High fiber, whole grains such as Soba, are not only great at providing balanced energy, but also help increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Insulin is a hormone responsible for telling your body to convert any excess glucose (sugar) into a format that is easily stored for use later. This is an important process to protect in your body, as it is key in preventing the onset of some very common diseases and ailments including hypoglycemia and diabetes. Even in the presence of these ailments, regularly incorporating high fiber, whole grains can still help in repairing receptor sensitivity to insulin.
This is “The Hearty Heart” blog, so therefore there’s an interesting link between diabetes and heart disease. When there’s an excess of circulating glucose (the energy from sugar) because 1.) the body’s receptors aren’t receiving the insulin, stimulating the uptake of glucose (Diabetes type 2) or 2.) from overeating refined carbohydrates; the excess circulating glucose can be converted into fatty acids. The body can link fatty acids into chains of three to form triglycerides. Triglycerides are-to put it bluntly-blood fat. While they are useful for energy in times of low blood sugar, in excess, they are linked to coronary artery disease. See also: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4778
The important takeaway from all this is to avoid overeating refined, white grains, and instead emphasize high fiber, whole grains and products made from these grains. Soba is such a great example for this transition because it’s an inexpensive, quick cooking, hearty noodle. I think you’ll be really impressed with the slightly nutty flavor, and the noodle’s ability to make any meal look exotic! I like cooking mine slightly al dente, as it’s easier to serve up. It’s been a staple for me here in Japan, and I know will continue to be, once I leave.
A few deliciously tempting recipes you could start with:
Shrimp and Soba Stirfry:
Soba Noodle Soup in Shiitake Shoyu Broth with Asparagus, Leeks and Tofu: