In America, there is a stigma about carbohydrates. Many people see them as bad and should be avoided at all costs. In reality, there are just as many good carbs as there are bad. You just have to be careful as to which type you consume.
While many people have heard the case of simple carbohydrates versus complex carbs, referring to the size of their sugar chains, there is another way to look at it: whole carbs vs refined ones. This method of looking at the issue helps explain the differences better than the former method mentioned. In this case, it is referring to the level of processing the carbohydrates receive.
The Differences between Carbs
To understand what is being discussed, let us back up just a step and explain the differences in the three forms of carbohydrates.
- Starches are the complex carbs. Their sugar chains are so long, it takes more time for the body to break them down and process them, eventually converting them into glucose. Various cells in the body rely on this form of sugar to keep them energized. The foods that contain starches tend to make us feel weighed down because they are so thick and take so much time to break down.
- These are the simple carbs. They process fairly quickly, supplying sucrose, fructose, and glucose to our bodies. Because they process so fast, we tend to get hungry shortly after consuming these. That is perfectly fine, depending on the source of the sugar. Depending on your dietary requirements, you may be eating more sugar-infused foods throughout the day rather than three big, starchy meals.
- Fiber is a carbohydrate that has no real nutritional value. Our bodies are unable to digest it. It does provide us with other benefits, one of them being that the bacteria in our stomachs can use part of it as energy. This aids in the digestive process and helps encourage regular bowel movements.
Whole Carbs Vs. Refined Carbs
With this knowledge, we can now discuss how whole carbs and refined carbs affect our bodies.
Whole carbs are any that appear in nature. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of these. These foods are also usually high in fiber and various vitamins and minerals. Eating fruits and vegetables are more likely to maintain a balanced blood sugar level. If not maintained, high levels of blood sugar can lead to diabetes and other health issues.
These carbs are the ones you have to look out for. They are the empty calories found in sodas and beer, candies, and a number of sweets. They are the ones that add to your calorie intake without providing your body with the other nutrients it needs to function. They can also cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate and potentially lead to diabetes.
True or False – Carbs Make Us Fat
They really don’t. What is making America, and really any modernized country, obese is a combination of things. First, the fact that Americans tend to eat more processed foods than other countries is a major factor. We tend to eat on the go, grab the drinks with the best flavors, and consume a lot of junk for snacks.
Fast food meals are full of processed ingredients to make them cheaper, keeping prices low so more people will eat them. Sodas are full of so many forms of refined carbohydrates that there is very little water left in them (water being the basis for all liquids). Candy bars and gummy bears are really nothing more than shaped sugar – there is nothing beneficial in them.
The other factor to consider is that Americans lead sedentary lifestyles. Over the years, with advances in technology, more and more people are sitting in front of their computers to earn a paycheck rather than doing physical labor. Plus, with the advent of video games, younger generations are being distracted from pursuing an active lifestyle.
Good Foods with Good Carbs
There are a number of foods that contain carbohydrates that can be included in a diet regimen.
This staple of many diets is high in potassium and other vitamins. Bananas in the green, unripe phase contain more starches, which can help in the digestive process. Carbohydrates make up approximately 25% of this tropical fruit. This is why diabetics must be careful with them. They can provide a quick boost of sugar into the bloodstream, but they can also raise blood sugar levels if too much is consumed.
Everyone knows that oranges have high concentrations of vitamin C. They also contain strong antioxidants and other vitamins to boost a person’s health. The two largest ingredients in oranges are water and carbs. These whole sugars are naturally occurring, making them excellent snack foods for after school or throughout the day.
Beans and legumes are high in starches. They also contain a lot of fiber, giving you a double dose of healthy carbs. Triple dose if you consider the fact that they have a high concentration of protein. Along with the other minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins found in these families of food, they are really the total package.
Don’t Believe the Hype – You Need Carbs to Stay Healthy!
So, now that you know carbohydrates are not as bad as you once thought, help spread the word. Use your social media, blog about it on your website – anything you can do to help dissolve the stigma around carbohydrates. The more people become educated about the differences in carbs, the better the food choices they can make.
Carbs are not to blame for obesity in America. They are not the unhealthy demon people make them out to be. Eating them from the right sources will actually help your body instead of hurting it! There are enough stresses in life to worry us. Worrying about consuming carbohydrates should not be one of them. Make sure you are eating whole carbs instead of refined carbs, the ones with good calories rather than empty ones.