Carbohydrates and a Healthy Diet: 5 Things to Know
There’s a lot of information, and misinformation, about carbohydrates and sugar in the media. If you and your family are trying to eat healthier, you might be curious about fitting carbohydrates into a healthy diet.
Here is what to consider when working carbs into your daily diet.
Carbs are Energy. Carbohydrates are the body’s most important and readily available source of energy. They are a fundamental element of any healthy diet. There are two types of carbohydrates- simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates, also known as simple sugars, include fructose, glucose and lactose. Complex carbs are starches, found in vegetables, whole grains, rice, bread and cereals.
How They Work. The body converts carbohydrates into energy by breaking them down into simple sugars, which are absorbed into the bloodstream. As the body’s sugar levels rise, the pancreas releases insulin to move sugar from the blood into the cells, where it can be used as energy.
Not All Carbs are Equal. Simple carbohydrates, such as those found in highly processed white grains, are more easily broken down and therefore cause blood sugars to rise quickly. The complex carbohydrates found in vegetables, whole grains and brown rice are broken down more slowly and cause blood sugar to rise gradually.
Not All Simple Sugars are Bad. While carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation lately, in part because of the large quantity of highly processed food available, not all simple carbs are bad. Fresh fruits contain simple carbs, but they also contain essential nutrients and are a great source of fiber.
How to Include Carbs in a Healthy Diet. Make good carb choices and buy whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy. Try to limit highly processed foods with added sugar, and instead opt for whole fruits as a naturally sweet snack.
More questions about including carbohydrates in a healthy diet? Schedule a free health consultation with Dr. Karen at KareBoost Health today to learn about Health Coaching for you and your family!
Karen L. Leibowitz, MD
Health and Medical Coach