The reputation of carbs has swung wildly over the past few years. They are considered to be the most feared food in fad diets but they have also been promoted as providing healthy nutrients to your body. Some people completely refrain from consuming carbs while others try to fit in a certain amount into their diet. There are many misconceptions in the debate surrounding carbs and whether they are good for you or not. This blog will help clear many of those misconceptions and will help you to decide whether you should take them or not.
Are carbs good or bad for you?
The answer to this is that they are both good and bad. Carbs are frowned upon because of the fad low fat carb diets that completely discourage people from consuming them, but it really depends on how much you consume and what type of carbs you can consume.
Health Benefits of Eating Carbohydrates:
The most common misconception about carbs is that they make you fat. The truth is that they don’t unless you unnecessarily eat large amounts of bad carbs like white bread, pasta, rice etc. What most people fail to understand is that carbs are a healthy addition to your diet because:
- Good carbs protect you from a number of conditions. Adding carbs that are rich in fiber can prevent you from conditions like diabetes, colon cancer and heart disease. Simple steps can be taken to ensure that you have a high fiber intake like, switching from white bread to whole grain bread or going for unprocessed or minimally processed plant-based foods.
- They prevent weight gain and promote weight loss. Many carbohydrates contain dietary fiber, which is actually an indigestible complex carbohydrate. Having slow release carbohydrates like oatmeal or bran cereal in the morning or snacking on whole wheat crackers during the day can do wonders for your weight loss process.
- They help keep your memory sharp. Just as carbohydrates are required to fuel your body, they also are required to fuel your brain. Complex carbs such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, high-fiber cereal, lentils, and whole beans help keep you on your mental game, also keeping your memory sharp.
- They are good for digestion as they speed up the process. The dietary fiber found in carbohydrates helps digestion because it moves food quickly through intestines, which helps prevent digestive disorders such as constipation or diverticulitis.
Simple or Complex Carbs?
Simple carbohydrates are a major source of energy for the body and are found in many nutrient-dense foods, including fruit, fruit juice and dairy products. All of these foods also contain a substantial amount of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals and should be consumed as part of a healthy and well-balanced diet.
Complex carbohydrates may be referred to as dietary starch and are made of sugar molecules strung together like a necklace or branched like a coil. They are often rich in fiber, thus satisfying and health promoting. Complex carbohydrates are commonly found in whole plant foods and, therefore, are also often high in vitamins and minerals.
These whole plant foods are great sources of complex carbohydrates:
- Green Vegetables
- Whole grain foods made from them such as whole grain breads and oatmeal
- Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, corn and pumpkins
- Beans, lentils and peas.
How to tell the difference between simple and complex carbs?
Simple carbohydrates are mainly simple sugars, and they raise blood sugar much faster and usually higher than complex carbs.
Complex carbs are basically starches that contain fiber. They are digested more slowly than simple carbs, so blood sugars don’t rise as high or as fast.
When planning your meals, focus on shifting your carb intake to more complex carbs and less simple carbs. This will help you control your blood sugar levels.
In conclusion, always keep this in mind:
“Don’t say no to Carbohydrates; Choose healthy carbs instead!”
With a positive attitude towards carbs, keeping all the health benefits in mind, you can shed a new light on them.
Three cheers for Carbs!