Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: Why Carbohydrates Matter to You

Sourced from: WebMD

What’s the difference between a sandwich made on white bread and one made with 100% whole grain bread?

Or, the difference between French fries and side salad made with spinach, tomatoes, carrots, and kidney beans?

All the foods above are carbohydrates. But the second option in both questions includes good carbohydrate foods (whole grains and vegetables).

Carbohydrates: Good or Bad?

In the past five years the reputation of carbohydrates has swung wildly. Carbs have been touted as the feared food in fad diets. And some carbs have also been promoted as a healthful nutrient associated with lower risk of chronic disease.

So which is it? Are carbs good or bad? The short answer is that they are both.

Fortunately, it’s easy separate the good from the bad.

  • We can reap the health benefits of good carbs by choosing carbohydrates full of fiber. These carbs that get absorbed slowly into our systems, avoiding spikes in blood sugar levels. Examples: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans.
  • We can minimize the health risk of bad carbs by eating fewer refined and processed carbohydrates that strip away beneficial fiber. Examples: white bread and white rice.

What Are The Good Carbs?

Most of us know what the good carbs are: plant foods that deliver fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals along with grams of carbohydrate, such as whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. You can’t judge a carb as “good” without considering its fiber content (unless it’s a naturally low-fiber food like skim or low-fat milk).

Why Fiber in Carbohydrates Counts

Fiber is the part in plant foods that humans can’t digest. Even though fiber isn’t absorbed, it does all sorts of great stuff for our bodies.

Fiber slows down the absorption of other nutrients eaten at the same meal, including carbohydrates.

  • This slowing down may help prevent peaks and valleys in your blood sugar levels, reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Certain types of fiber found in oats, beans, and some fruits can also help lower blood cholesterol.
  • As an added plus, fiber helps people feel full, adding to satiety.

The problem is that the typical American diet is anything but high in fiber.

“White” grain is the American mode of operation: we eat a muffin or bagel made with white flour in the morning, have our hamburger on a white bun, and then have white rice with our dinner.

In general, the more refined, or “whiter,” the grain-based food, the lower the fiber.

To get some fiber into almost every meal takes a little effort. Here are three tips:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Just eating five servings a day of fruits and vegetables will get you to about 10 or more grams of fiber, depending on your choices.
  • Include some beans and bean products in your diet. A half-cup of cooked beans will add from 4 to 8 grams of fiber to your day.
  • Switch to whole grains every single possible way (buns, rolls, bread, tortillas, pasta, crackers, etc).

For the rest of the article, visit: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/carbohydrates

 

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