by ADMIN on MAY 7, 2012
Some people call them evil. Others crave them.
So what’s the verdict on Carbohydrates?
What are they?
Carbohydrates are found in a variety of foods: bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, milk, popcorn, potatoes, soft drinks, corn, beans, juice, and even apple pie. They can be refined: Made of sugars that are easily broken down (candy, juice, soda, white bread, pasta, sugary cereals), or they can be complex: Made with fiber that take longer to break down and offer more nutrition (bran, whole wheat, beans, oats, quinoa, and other whole grains).
Carbohydrates are out body’s preferred source. Our go-to energy provider for daily activities and for exercise. Whole grains have antioxidants, healthy unsaturated fats (small amounts which are found in whole grains, such as wheat germ), and fiber which all help to prevent disease. Interestingly, whole grains are broken down into Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) which are the primary fuel used by our gasto-intestinal cells. These SFCAs keep the cells healthy and better able to digest and absorb nutrients from the foods we eat.
Though carbohydrates are necessary for good health, we as Americans eat way too much of them.
Americans actually eat 22 teaspoons of sugar on average every day. That’s 350 calories worth of the sweet stuff! But we should be consuming no more than 6 teaspoons per day for women, and 9 teaspoons for men.
Eating too many carbohydrates, especially those that are refined, is actually strongly linked to the development of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and weight gain. In fact, having a carb-centric diet can raise your blood pressure, blood sugar, and even your triglycerides!
After eating a meal or snack consistently of primarily carbohydrates, your blood sugar goes up drastically – so instead of burning off most of what we eat, our body actually has to store much of it. Not really what we want!
What’s more is that this type of eating pattern also causes premature aging. These spikes in blood sugar actually cause Advanced Glycation End-Produce (aptly shortened to AGE), which can not only lead to early dementia, hardened arteries, and other degenerative diseases, but also leads to wrinkles!
Choose good carbs, not No carbs
The bottom line is that we do need whole grains, just not as much refined grains. Here are some tips on making great choices:
Choose vegetables and fruits first as your carbohydrate source – and include them in every meal and snack. Half your plate should be veggies at dinner. Have a side of veggies at lunch (side salad or a baggie of fresh cut vegetables such as baby carrots, sugar snap peas, or bell peppers). Eat a piece of fruit with snacks and perhaps sprinkle some berries on your breakfast cereal or oatmeal.
Choose whole grains next, eating about 1/2 to 1 cup (depending on your age, gender, and nutritional goals) at at least 2 of your meals. Examples of some good whole grains include whole grain bread and whole grain cereal (look for at least 4 grams of fiber per serving). Quinoa, brown rice, wheat berries, millet, or bulgur are great grains to try. Beans are a wonderful source of complex carbohydrates and nutrients as well!
Choose refined grains last – sticking to about 150 calories worth per day, tops! This includes juice, soda, candy, cookies, many crackers, sugary cereals, pastries, ice cream, chips, and many other desserts.
Carbohydrates should be a Side Dish, not the Main Focus of your meal. Again, fill up most of your plate with vegetables, and have a smaller side of the more starchy carbs. Many times at restaurants we may get 3 meals worth of pasta or rice when we order!