So what are carbohydrates and why are they important? Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches, and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk products. Carbohydrates are one of three main ways that the body obtains energy or calories. Carbohydrates, according to the American Diabetes Association, are the body’s main source of energy. An individual’s healthy diet should contain foods rich in carbohydrates since it provides the body with glucose; glucose is converted into energy to help with the body’s daily functions and physical activity. However, all carbs are not created equal. There are two types of carbohydrates: complex carbs and simple carbs.
Complex carbs are identified as fiber and starch, whereas sugar is a simple carb. Complex Carbs are the healthiest source of carbohydrates. These are known as unprocessed whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans. Complex carbs help the body by delivering vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Simple carbs are unhealthier sources of carbohydrates. Simple Carbs include white bread, pastries, sodas, and other highly processed or refined foods. Simple carbs are easily
digested carbohydrates that may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes or heart disease.
Tips to Add Complex Carbohydrates to Your Diet:
- Start the day off right with healthy, whole grains in your breakfast. A key way to include more whole grains in your diet is by looking for foods which list whole grains as one of the first ingredients. If you cannot give-up cereal as a breakfast food, you should look for cereals that are above 4-grams in fiber and less than 8-grams of sugar.
- Breads that are rich in healthy carbohydrates. When choosing breads, make sure you pick breads that list the first ingredient as “whole.” Examples of this include whole wheat, whole rye, or some other whole grain.
- Bread isn’t your only option! Good alternatives to bread are whole grains in salad such as quinoa and brown rice.
- Forget the juice and choose whole fruits. Instead of choosing sugary juices try eating whole fruits. Fruits typically contain less sugar than juices and more fiber such as oranges.
- Choose beans over potatoes. Beans are excellent source of complex carbohydrates which are slowly digestive carbohydrates and keep you full longer. Potatoes on the other hand have been found to promote weight gain.
Simple carbs are any foods that are high in sugars. Foods to try to avoid:
- Sugary Cereal
Complex Carbohydrates you should eat:
- Whole grains
By David Daoud