The Skinny on Carbohydrates

December 05, 2013

Carbohydrates are an important source of energy that our bodies can very efficiently convert into glucose, which is the form of sugar our bodies use. It's important to note that a diet that is too heavy on carbohydrates can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels! Moderation is important! There's also a big difference in various types of carbohydrates! The healthiest sources of carbohydrates are called complex carbohydrates and include unprocessed whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans. They offer the health-conscious eater excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and valuable phytonutrients. Unhealthy sources of carbohydrates, the simple carbohydrates, include white breads, pastries and processed or prepared foods. While eating unhealthy carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and raise the risks of diabetes and heart disease, including the healthy, complex carbohydrates in your diet can actually lessen the risk of diabetes and heart diseases, and help in your weight loss goals! Good or complex carbohydrates are easily available. Your best sources for complex carbohydrates are beans, rice, lentils, root vegetables, yams, wholegrain cereals and pasta. Many fruits -- apples, pears, bananas and grapes all have at least 20 grams of carbs per serving. Dried fruits have an even higher content! There are a few points to think about that will help you increase complex carbohydrates in your diet while you cut out the unhealthy ones.
  • Have oatmeal or your favorite hot, whole grain cereal for breakfast. If you prefer cold cereal, choose one low in sugar that has at least 4 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Eat whole grain breads. Ideally, find one that is made with just whole grains. Again, keep it low in sugar!
  • Top your lunch salad with chilled brown rice or quinoa.
  • Eat your fruit rather than buying juice, that way you won't miss out on any fiber or other important nutrients!
  • Eat beans instead of potatoes. not only are they an excellent source of carbohydrates and they're chock full of protein!
  • Are you a pasta lover? Make it whole grain!
The average American consumes 55% of his or her daily calories from carbohydrates. The minimum daily intake recommendation is no more than 45 to 65% of your daily calories, depending on activity level and metabolism. Recent research from the National Institutes of Health found that consuming maximum  of 40% of you daily caloric intake from carbohydrates is ideal for losing weight and maintaining weight levels. Carbohydrates in moderation is healthy when  you choose healthy carbohydrates.

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