Everyone is so freaked out by the word “carbs” these days. What most don’t realize is that basically anything that isn’t a protein or a fat IS in fact a carbohydrate, including vegetables.
Granted, there are both simple and complex carbohydrates out there so how do we know which ones are the good guys?
It’s actually pretty “simple”. 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. As a result we get that little “burst” and feeling of immediate satisfaction, however they also leave our bloodstream as quickly enter leaving us sluggish and craving more to get that rush back.
Some food sources of Simple Carbohydrates:
- Table sugar
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup
- Maple syrup
- Jams, jellies
- Fruit drinks
- Soft drinks
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. And these guys stick around for the long haul giving more sustainable energy for longer periods of time! (I.e., “the good guys”)
These whole plant foods are great sources of Complex Carbohydrates:
- Green vegetables
- Whole grains and foods made from them, such as oatmeal, pasta, and whole-grain breads
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and pumpkin
- Beans, lentils, and peas.
My Top 4 Starchy Carbohydrates that I eat regularly but in moderation:
About any type of bean provides more than 6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein per half cup serving. Some studies have found that bean eaters weighed less but ate more than people who avoided beans. To aid digestion, rinse your beans in water prior to cooking.
Squash are a great source of low-sugar, high-fiber carbs. One cup of cooked butternut squash contains only 80 calories and 7 grams of fiber. Crave sugar? Eating sweet vegetable based carbs such as squash will help to curb cravings and overeating due to the natural sugar and high fiber content.
POTATOES (Sweet and Purple) potatoes with the skin on are great sources of fiber-rich carbs, powerful antioxidants called carotenoids, vitamin C, protein and potassium. Like squash, eating colorful potatoes will help to curb sugar cravings.
QUINOA not only does one cup contain 5 grams of fiber, but quinoa is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine of the essential amino acids, which cannot be made by the body and therefore must come from food.
Remember, that ALL carbs metabolize and assimilate into glucose which is energy and ultimately sugar so choosing items lower on the glycemic index scale and keeping portions in control are key!
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