Carbohydrates - Good or bad?
Why you shouldn’t avoid all carbs
Despite what many of the popular “fad” diets would have you believe, carbohydrates are NOT BAD for you! In fact they are an extremely important part of human nutrition. Carbs give you energy and provide many of the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients necessary for good health. However, eating the wrong kinds of carbs on a regular basis – something that hundreds of millions of people do – can be very harmful. Many experts now believe that “bad” carbs are a leading cause of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol, and several of the other serious health problems we face in modern days.
What are good carbs?
The simple answer to this question is this: good carbs are unprocessed carbohydrates in their natural state – or very close to their natural state. In other words they have been minimally processed by man or machine (or not processed at all). Most nutrition experts agree that green vegetables are the “ultimate” good carbs. In fact, pretty much all leafy vegetables and fresh fruits fit into this category. Beans and lentils are also, generally included on the “good carbs” list, as are nuts and seeds. Finally, whole-grains such as oats, brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat are minimally or not processed good carbs. Whereas breads and pastas can be considered partially or highly processed depending on what the ingredients are and how they are being made.
Eating carbs is way better for your long-term health than cutting them.
Good carbs have these healthy characteristics
High in fibre – helps you stay full longer and avoid overeating, provides sustained energy, lowers cholesterol levels, helps to remove toxins from the body.
Low glycemic index – stabilises blood sugar levels and insulin production.
High in nutrients –naturally rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that promote optimal health and reduce risk of chronic diseases.
Low energy-density (except nuts and seeds that are naturally rich in good fat, which are calorie-dense) – provides sustained energy, promotes healthy weight loss and long-term weight maintenance.
Greater thermic effect – naturally stimulates metabolism and promotes fat loss.
BBDiet Professional Weight Management Program incorporates good carbs into their eating plans because they are so effective at lowering insulin production and stabilising blood sugar levels. Also, because of their high fibre content, good carbs make you feel fuller and help you avoid overeating – a major problem for many people trying to lose weight safely!
To sum it up, the following food types are generally considered to be good carbs and should make up most or all of your carb intake:
What are bad carbs
Bad carbs are refined, processed carbohydrate foods that have had all or most of their natural nutrients and fibre removed in order to make them easier to transport and more consumer friendly. Most baked goods, white breads, pastas, snack foods, candies and fizzy drinks fit into this category. Bleached, enriched wheat flour and white sugar – along with an array of artificial flavourings, colourings and preservatives – are the most common ingredients used to make “bad carb” foods.
The regular consumption of large amounts of high sugar, low fibre, nutritionally poor “bad carbs” eventually leads to a much higher risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and more. It’s pretty clear that the abundance of processed carbs and unhealthy trans fats found in so many foods is a major cause – if not the biggest cause of many of our modern chronic health conditions.
What can good carbs do for you?
Simply put, if you eat only good carbs you can avoid many of the health problems that plague millions of people around the globe.
You will be healthier and fitter.
You will feel better and have significantly more energy.
You will lose most or all of your excess body fat.
Most importantly, you will be able to get more enjoyment out of your body and your life!
Simple tips for incorporating good carbs into your diet
Try to cut out as much junk foods from your diet as possible. This included pretty much all chips, candies, soft drinks etc.
Avoid or at least limit your intake of refined flour baked goods, including non-wholegrain breads, bagels doughnuts, cupcakes, brownies, cakes etc. Also, throw out the processed, high sugar breakfast cereals and stick to wholegrain cereals and oats.
Buy a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and begin to include at least 1 to 2 servings with each meal. Also, avoid getting hungry and overeating by snacking on fruit or cut up veggies throughout the day – a single large apple can easily curb hunger.
Try to eat a serving of leafy green vegetables at least twice a day. Also, eat a variety of other colourful vegetables as often as possible.
Use nuts and seeds as health, portable snacks you can carry anywhere. Also, they can be used to add flavours and texture to many different foods especially in salads.
Eat a serving of beans or legumes at least 1 to 2 times a day. The dozens of different types of beans and peas can be used in hundreds of healthy recipes. Also, consider buying or making bean sprouts – they are considered to be some of the most nutritionally powerful foods available.
If you buy grain products – including breads, cereals, crackers, pastas etc, always choose wholegrain options whenever possible. Just make sure that wholegrain is the first word in the ingredient list and you will be fine.
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Feel free to comment below if you have any health concerns, I will do my best to answer your questions. You can also request on the comment column if there is any health-related topic that you would like me to write about. I’ll put them into my next to do list. :)
If you need further help to optimise your health through healthy eating, our BBDiet dietitians could provide you the best support possible with personalised nutrition plan that suits your personal needs and preferences.
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