Carbohydrates: How Carbohydrates Fit in a Healthy Diet


Carbohydrates: How Carbohydrates Fit in a Healthy Diet

Carbs aren't bad, but some may be healthier than others. Find out why carbohydrates are important to your health and which ones to choose.

Carbohydrates: How Carbohydrates Fit in a Healthy Diet

Carbohydrates are often viewed poorly, especially when it comes to weight gain. But carbohydrates aren't all bad. Because of their many health benefits, carbohydrates should have a place in your dietIn fact, the body needs carbohydrates to function properly. But some carbohydrates may be more beneficial to you than

others. Understand more about carbohydrates and how to choose healthy carbohydrates.

Understanding carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient found in many foods and drinks. Most carbohydrates are found naturally in foods of plant origin, such as grainsFood manufacturers also add carbohydrates to processed foods in the form of starch or added sugar.

Natural sources of carbohydrates include:

  • the fruit
  • vegetables
  • the milk
  • nuts
  • cereal
  • Seeds
  • legumes

Types of carbohydrates

There are three main types of carbohydrates:

Types of carbohydrates

  • Sugar: Sugar is the simplest type of carbohydrate. Sugar is naturally present in some foods, such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and milk products. Types of sugar include; Fruit sugar (fructose), table sugar (sucrose), and milk sugar (lactose).
  • Starch: Starch is a complex form of carbohydrates, as they are made of several sugar units mixed together. Starch is naturally found in vegetables, grains, cooked dry beans, and peas.
  • Fiber: Fiber is also a complex carbohydrate. Fiber is naturally found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cooked dry beans, and peas.

More Carbohydrate Terms: Net Carbs and glycemic index

Terms such as "low carbs" or "pure carbs" often appear on product labels, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not regulated these terms, so there is no standard meaning for them. The term net carbs are usually used to refer to the number of carbohydrates in the product excluding fiber or excluding fiber and sugar alcohols.

You may also have heard of the glycemic index. The glycemic index ranks foods that contain carbohydrates according to their ability to raise blood sugar levels.

GI weight loss diets usually recommend limiting foods higher in the glycemic index. Foods with the highest relative glycemic index ratings include potatoes and corn, and less healthy options, such as snack foods and desserts, that contain refined flour. There are many healthy foods at the bottom of the glycemic index, such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products.

How many carbohydrates do you need?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily caloriesSo, if you get 2,000 calories a day, it should be between 900 and 1,300 calories from carbohydrates. This means you get between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates per day.

You can find the carbohydrate content of canned food on the Nutrition Facts label. The Nutrition Facts label lists total carbohydrates, which include starch, fiber, sugar alcohols, and naturally occurring and added sugar. These labels may also list total fiber, soluble fiber, and sugar separately. You may also find food calculators online or find information on the manufacturer's website.

Carbohydrates and your health

Despite the bad view of carbohydrates, they are important to your health for several reasons.

It gives you energy

The body uses carbohydrates as the main source of energySugars and starches are broken down into simple sugars during digestion, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream in what is known as blood sugar (blood glucose). From here, glucose enters the cells of the body with the help of insulin. The body uses some glucose for energy that powers you to do all kinds of activities, whether jogging or even breathing. Excess glucose is stored in the liver, muscles, and other cells for later use or converted to fat.

disease prevention

Some evidence suggests that whole grains and dietary fiber from whole foods help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Fiber may also protect against obesity and type 2 diabetesFiber is also essential for optimal digestive health.

Weight control

The evidence shows that eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help you control your weight. Its mass and fiber content helps control weight more by making you feel full on fewer calories. Contrary to popular belief about diets that are low in carbohydrates, there are very few studies showing that diets rich in healthy carbohydrates lead to weight gain and obesity.

Choose carbohydrates wisely

Carbohydrates are an essential part of any healthy diet, and they provide many important nutrients. But carbohydrates vary in the amount of benefit. Here's how to eat healthy carbohydrates in a balanced diet:

  • Focus on high-fiber fruits and vegetables: Choose whole, fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables without added sugar. They are better choices than fruit juices and dried fruit, which are concentrated sources of natural sugar and therefore contain more calories. Also, whole fruits and vegetables add fiber, water, and fullness, which can help you feel more full using fewer calories.
  • Choose whole grains: Whole grains are a better source of fiber and other important nutrients, such as selenium, potassium, and magnesium, than refined grains. Refined grains undergo a process in which portions of the grain — as well as some nutrients and fiber — are discarded.
  • Stick to low-fat dairy products: Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein, as well as many other vitamins and minerals. However, choose low-fat products, to limit calories and saturated fat. Watch out for dairy products that have added sugar.
  • Eat more beans and legumes: Legumes, which include beans, peas, and lentils, are among the most nutritious and versatile. Legumes are usually considered low-fat; It does not contain cholesterol and is rich in folate, potassium, iron, and magnesium. They also contain beneficial fats, soluble and insoluble fibers. Because they are a good source of protein, legumes can be a healthy alternative to meat, which has more saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Limit added sugar: Small amounts of added sugar probably aren't harmful. But there is no health benefit from consuming any amounts of added sugar. In fact, excessive added sugar, as with natural sugar in some cases, can lead to health problems such as tooth decay, malnutrition, and weight gain.

Therefore, choose the carbohydrates you consume wisely. You should limit foods with added sugar and refined grains, such as sugary drinks, sweets, and candy, as they are high in calories and have little nutrients. Instead, eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.