Following a low-carb diet, and avoiding carb rich food has become a trend. However, the belief that carbs are bad is a fad. Not all carbs are bad for you! There are the good carbs that are unprocessed and derived from plant sources such as vegetables, fruits, pulses and whole grains. Choosing good carbs as an alternative to the bad carbs is the way to go for a healthy lifestyle.
Carbs can be of two kinds – simple and complex.
Simple carbs are nothing but simple sugar molecules that are quickly digested and converted into sugar in the body, releasing spikes of energy. Examples of such carbs are mostly processed foods likefruit juices, white breads, candies, cake, cookies, white rice etc.
Complex carbs are starches or complex sugar molecules attached like a chain. They are broken down and converted to sugar gradually in the body, releasing energy constantly. They are digested slowly and keep you full for longer. Carbs from plant sources such as whole grains, vegetables such as sweet potatoes, broccoli, fruits such as berries, apple, and pulses such as lentils, beans and peas are all complex carbs. They are also rich in fiber, essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs. They are complete foods and are healthy alternatives to simple (bad) carbs.
While the carbs are classified into simple and complex carbs based on the sugar molecules that constitute them, they are classified also into processed and unprocessed carbs. Whole foods from plant sources with minimum processing are considered the best form of carbs. For example, whole wheat flour made from wheat berries are better than white flour made from wheat that is stripped off of bran and germ. This processing eliminates fiber and essential nutrients. Similarly, plant sources such as lentils and sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals making them a winner over processed carbs. Processed foods such as bread and pasta made from white flour, candies, cookies, sugary cereals, and fruit juices are not just stripped off nutrients but also processed further by adding more sugar, salt, preservatives, corn syrup, and chemical additives making the immune healthier.
Thus, it is very important to make smart choices while choosing carbs. You need to replace processed carbs with unprocessed carbs – fruit juices with whole fruits, sugary cereals with oatmeal, white rice with brown rice, white breads with whole wheat or whole grain breads. Even better, white rice can be skipped and substituted with sweet potatoes or lentils.
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