Carbohydrates have gotten a terrible reputation for the past few years, and this is mainly because people associate carbs highly with food items such as white bread, pasta, rice, sweet drinks, and yogurts. However, do not forget that not all carbs are bad; only refined carbs harm the human body because their beneficial nutrients are stripped away. There are different varieties of carbohydrates, and each affects the body differently and has specific benefits. Take, for instance, whole grain wheat. It is beneficial when eating whole grains, such as oats and porridge, but when refined into white flour, the refining process strips away the bran and germ, leaving starch behind, an unhealthy carbohydrate form. It is important to know the different types of carbohydrates, as it helps make smarter and healthier choices concerning nutrition. Now, before we dive into the whole good and bad carbohydrates, let us first understand what exactly a carbohydrate is. Carbohydrates are your sugar, fibers, fruits, dairy, soda, sweets, starches, etc. Carbohydrate A is one of the three crucial micronutrients essential for the body. Through digestion, our body converts carbohydrates into blood glucose which the body utilizes as fast-acting energy. The extra carbohydrates are sent to the liver and muscles and stored as glycogen, which works as a reserve for storing extra energy. For example, during exercise, the blood glucose levels are low, the body uses glycogen to file the body energy levels.
The pros and cons differ depending upon the type of carbohydrate one consumes. When working with carbohydrates, it is important to familiarise yourself with whole versus refined carbohydrates. Different types and sources of carbohydrates have their own pros and cons, which are important to know, especially if you wish to develop a healthy diet to achieve your goals.
Whole carbohydrates are those food items that contain carbs and appear in their relatively natural state. These food items include fruits, wheat, beans, barley, vegetables, and food items that are minimally processed for safety and freshness, such as canned fruits or vegetables, whole-grain bread, milk, yogurt, oats, etc.
In simple terms, whole grains are those grains that contain all their original parts, which are bran, germ, and endosperm. The bran contains antioxidants, vitamin B, and fiber. The germ acts like the grain’s embryo and contains vitamin B and small quantities of protein, minerals, and healthy fats. The last part is the endosperm, which acts as the germs food supply. It provides the plant with the energy to grow. It contains small quantities of vitamins, minerals, and starchy carbohydrates and proteins. As all three parts remain intact during the making of whole-grain bread and pasta, whole grain food items are considered nutrient-dense and are linked with improved health, making whole-grain the healthiest carb option.
Highly Processed Or Refined Carbohydrates
Lightly processed food items are now a part of life and are not necessarily bad, but highly processed items, especially carbohydrates, are not a healthy carb option. Highly processed carbohydrates are those food items that have undergone such extensive processing that they are stripped of many of their original nutrients. Refined grains lack one or two of their three essential parts: bran, germ, and endosperm. Typically refined or processed carbs are milled, a process that removes the bran and the germ. This means that the resulting product loses much of the vitamin B, fiber, protein, minerals, and healthy fat, leaving the starchy endosperm behind. The milling process gives the grains a more refined texture while also improving the shelf life. Once the germ and bran are removed, the refined carb is more easily digested by the stomach, leading the formed glucose to enter the bloodstream faster, which may sound incredible, but this leads to insulin spikes and blood sugar. White rice, white bread, and white flour are some examples of refined grains. In comparison, soda and candy are examples of highly processed carbohydrates.
How To Make The Most Out Of Carbs
Making a change sounds complex, but the transition is relatively easy when done with the correct technique.
- Try adding new whole grain options to your diet. For example, instead of plain white rice, try eating brown rice, millet, or quinoa. Instead of eating only one item, try to switch your whole grains.
- Instead of choosing refined versions of food items, try eating whole-grain versions such as whole-grain bread, cereals, crackers, snacks, etc.
- Try replacing some animal protein with canned beans while making soups, stews, or a heavy meat-based meal.
- Instead of opting for juices and sodas, try eating fruits or drinking sparkling water with a few chunks of fruits or vegetables added. This low-calorie beverage will not only keep you hydrated but will also help you appreciate the flavors of fresh whole foods.
- Lastly, avoid eating processed carbs such as white bread, flour, pasta, rice, and processed fruit juices. Try to drink freshly squeezed juice versions instead of the packaged sweetened version. Also, try getting your sugars from whole fruits. Shop for whole-grain bread and pasta instead of white bread and processed pasta.
Once you decide to make a healthy switch, you start seeing your food in a new light. Carbohydrates are essential for the body but only when taken in the right form. Processed carbohydrates are unhealthy and may result in an insulin spike. Processed carbs have a much lesser vitamin, mineral, and essential fat count than whole grains. Making a change may sound tough initially, but once you start the journey, the road turns out to be way smoother than expected.