Carbs, or carbohydrates, are one of the three macronutrients that the body uses to obtain energy. They provide fuel for the brain and energy for working muscles, and since the body is not able to produce these nutrients on its own, it is each person’s responsibility to obtain them via his or her diet. Because a lot of good carbs have been labeled as bad, many dietary plans ban them from consumption. Carbs, overall, tend to be misconceived as fat earning once the body is through with them, which makes us avoid them completely, or aim for low-carb diets.. This, however, can lead to nutrient deficiencies, reduced energy, nausea and other health risks.
The main types of dietary carbs are sugars, starches, and fiber. These three kinds of carbs can be found in both healthy and unhealthy foods, so it is essential to know what they are and where they can be found.
Sugars like glucose and fructose naturally occur in fruits and vegetables, but they can also be included in the refined sugar of cakes and cookies. Sucrose, on the other hand, is table sugar and should be avoided because it is processed and bleached. Starches are the most commonly consumed carbs. Beneficial complex carbs are in sweet potatoes, whole grains, and oats, while simple carbs are found in white flour, instant noodles, and pretzels (you want to avoid simple carbs as much as possible). Lastly, fiber is the only one of the three that cannot be digested, but it greatly aids the digestive system and is one of the most important foods in our diet.
So what are the ones we should eat?
The key to finding the “good” amongst the “bad” ones is understanding their basic composition. Good carbs tend to have low or moderate calories; they are low in sodium and saturated fat, while being high in nutrients and naturally occurring fiber. They are also unlikely to be processed or refined, and are void of added sugars. For example, when it comes to grains, whole grains provide more nutrients than the white grains because they have not been processed or bleached. They are also a great way to consume insoluble fiber:
|Good Whole Grains||Bad Whole Grains|
|Whole Wheat||White Noodles|
|Whole Oats||White Rice|
Legumes, such as beans, lentils, peanuts and peas, are also considered “good carbs,” as long as they come raw and have not been pre-seasoned or sugar-coated. Whole fruits and vegetables are generally great sources of the good carbs. Eat the following foods for the highest does of plant-based complex carbs:
- Sweet Potatoes
Bad carbs lacking in nutrients are associated with health problems like obesity and type 2 diabetes. They can be deceiving as well, such as with sweet potatoes, which can be great sources of carbohydrates and fiber if cooked and consumed well; you run into problems when you buy them canned or fry them in canola oil and season them with lots of sugar and salt. But once we have found the right kind of carbs we will discover that they actually help the body lose and maintain a healthy weight.
There is an abundance of bad carbs out there, which is why it is integral to discern which ones are good. This is why we consistently advocate learning about food. Knowledge ultimately helps you lead a healthier life.