Good carbs, bad carbs, complex carbs, simple carbs—it's all so confusing! It is essential to understand the difference between good and bad carbs and how they affect the body. The body turns carbohydrates into fuel for energy. Good carbs, known as complex carbohydrates, are turned into glycogen that the body uses for fuel. If not used immediately, glycogen from good carbs can be stored in the body for later use. Bad carbs come mostly from processed foods like white rice or sugar and when eaten cause the blood sugar to spike quickly only to fall quickly once spent, leaving you struggling for energy and fighting sleepiness.
- Whole Grains Eating good carbs will help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and will aid in weight control or weight loss. Eating good carbs is as simple as making the choice to eat a sandwich made with whole wheat bread instead of white bread. The short list of healthy whole grains include whole wheat breads and rolls, brown rice, old fashioned oatmeal, whole wheat pasta and whole grain breakfast cereals.
- Legumes Legumes are high in natural fiber, are a good source of protein and are a great source of good carbohydrates. Legumes include lentils, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans and soy beans which offer endless healthy meal choices. For instance, a pot of chili made with red kidney beans, ground turkey and canned tomatoes makes a healthy carb dinner.
- Vegetables There is a reason mother always nagged you to eat your vegetables. Vegetables are a great source of natural fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and are a wonderful source of good carbs. This does not mean stuff yourself with mashed white potatoes. Eat a variety of vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, cucumbers, celery, yams, carrots, onions and spinach. The list of vegetables with food carbs is actually much longer. If you are a vegetable hater, combine your vegetables with other ingredients to enhance the flavor. For instance, try a dish of stir fry vegetables with chicken.
- Fruit Have a cold slice of watermelon for dessert at your backyard barbecue. That is how easy it is to eat good carbs into your diet. Fruit can be eaten alone or mixed into a dish. Fruit should be eaten fresh and not pack in sugar. Packing fruit in sugar turns it into a serving of bad carbs. Enjoy oranges, pears, plumbs, grapefruits, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, bananas and more every day. For a good carb breakfast, add blueberries to a bowl of oatmeal.
- Other Carbs To add more good carbs to your diet, try replacing cow’s milk with soy milk or products made with soy. Soy beans are legumes and are a great source of fiber and good carbs. Try a whole wheat chocolate chip cookie.