Carbs don't have to be the enemy of a healthy diet—here's how to stop feeling so bad about indulging

By Keri Gans
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Let's be honest, you like bread-a lot. Maybe you gave it up because you thought you should. Doesn't it have gluten? Aren't carbs bad for you? Bread makes you gain weight, right? Truth is, bread can be part of a healthy diet. You're welcome.

Of course, we're not talking about the white stuff (you know, Wonder Bread), a mega-sized bagel, or sitting down to a 12-inch sub. Nor are we referring to eating the entire basket at a restaurant. We're talking about a moderate portion of nutrient-packed, 100 percent whole grain goodness. And if that's in your kitchen, we're got 10 reasons as to why you definitely shouldn't feel guilty about digging in.

Fiber, fiber, fiber. You're likely not getting enough fiber in your diet. Why you need it: Fiber keeps you feeling satisfied, helps with weight management, and alleviates constipation. An average slice of 100 percent whole grain bread has three grams of the good stuff. Make a sandwich for lunch and you're almost a quarter of the way toward your recommended intake for the day. (And we've got more Healthy Recipes Featuring High-Fiber Foods.)

Whole grains are heart-healthy. The 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans consume three to five servings of whole grains per day. One slice of whole wheat bread is one serving. Done.

B vitamins galore. Thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin (all B vitamins) help your body break down carbohydrates to be used for energy. Vitamin B6 helps keep your nervous system operating as it should, and folic acid is important to maintain health and vitality during reproductive years.

It's energizing. Along with fruit and veggies, whole grain bread is a complex carb, which digests more slowly, helping to regulate blood sugar. Complex carbs are also excellent sources of energy to help you get through that long, never-ending, extremely busy, jamp-packed day. Whew!

You'll fill up on iron. You need iron to maintain healthy red blood cells, which help to transport oxygen to working muscles. Plus, an iron deficiency can drain your energy leaving you tired and even short of breath. (Not fun!) (Are Iron Supplements the Kick Your Workout Needs?)

You've got built-in portion control. Believe it or not, if you buy slices, sandwich thins, English muffins, pitas, or wraps, you know exactly how many calories you're getting. And typically it's not too many-around 100 calories per serving.

Bread is superportable. Sandwiches make a really convenient lunch. They can be easily made at home and eaten at your desk or on the go. Just think of the money you'll save by brown bagging it!

Yes, you likely can tolerate gluten. If you don't have Celiac Disease or a confirmed gluten intolerance, be thankful. Don't get caught up with misinformation you stumble upon online or by family and friends that lead you to believe that gluten is the enemy. It's not!

Sandwiches are a vehicle for other healthy foods. So many healthy foods can be part of a sandwich: hummus, avocado, veggies, egg, grilled chicken, tofu, and tuna-and the list goes on. (And there are Healthy Food Swaps to Slim Down Your Sandwich, making it even better for you!)

It tastes good. Yep, that's right-you shouldn't eliminate foods from our diet that you enjoy. The more you restrict, the more you want, and then the more you overeat. So if you really like something, cut yourelf some slack and eat it.

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