"Carb" is not a dirty "four-letter word". What's important is eating the right carbs.
Carbohydrates are the main source of calories in a healthy diet and are the primary fuel for the brain and muscles. Typically, about three-fourths of daily calories should come from carbohydrates. It’s important to choose the best carbohydrate sources. That means two things:
- Choose complex carbohydrates, rather than simple carbohydrates.
- Choose carbohydrates that still have their fiber, like brown rice, buckwheat, or sprouted grain bread, rather than white rice or white bread, from which the fiber has been stripped away.
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.
Simple carbohydrates are sugars. All simple carbohydrates are made of just one or two sugar molecules. They are the quickest source of energy, as they are very rapidly digested.
Getting the Best Carb-Rich Foods
Choose whole, unprocessed foods from plant sources. Choosing whole fruit instead of juice, a whole-grain side dish instead of crackers, and fresh starchy vegetables instead of potato chips will ensure you are getting complex carbohydrates, complete with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Plant starches include all root vegetables such as potatoes, jerusalem artichokes, or yuca, whole grains such as brown or wild rice, organic corn, peas, lentils, chickpeas, beans including organic soy beans, plantains, pumpkin, or seeds like quinoa and buckwheat among others.
Avoid animal foods. Remember that all types of meat, milk, and eggs are essentially devoid of carbohydrates. Instead, they promote gain weight, bloating, gas, and food poisoning. Most importantly, they are one of the major sources of chronic illnesses.
Picking The Right Ones
When buying packaged foods, check food labels for the word “whole” in front of the word “grain” and make sure that corn syrup, milk, eggs, cheese, sugar (or any sweetener), enriched flours, modified ingredients, or any of the other simple carbohydrate doesn’t appear among the ingredients on the list.
Aim for ingredient lists with few words, and make sure they are whole, plant-based foods.
|Carbs to Limit||Smarter Carbs||Best Choices|
|Instead of:||Choose:||Or better yet choose:|
|Candy||Dried fruit||Whole fruit|
|Soda or punch||Fruit juice||Water with squeezed or whole fruit|
|White bread||Whole-wheat bread||Sprouted-grain bread|
|Enriched pasta||Whole-wheat pasta||Raw zucchini or squash noodles|
|White Crackers||Whole-grain cracker||Vegetable sticks|
|Cotton Candy||Caramel apple||Apple|
|Chocolate chip cookie||Oatmeal raisin cookie||Strawberries|
|Sugary cereal||Bran cereal||Rolled oats|