Various diet trends would have us believe carbs are the sworn enemy of slim figures everywhere. According to the Harvard School of Public Health that simply isn’t true. Carbohydrates are a critical component of a healthy, balanced diet. Our bodies use carbs for fuel and just as with our cars, the quality of that fuel counts. It is true that some carbs are better for us than others. Choose the right ones to boost your health and support an active lifestyle. Choose the wrong ones too often and risk hurting your overall health. Wondering how to choose carbs that can help you? The tips below offer some ideas.
Carbs are broken down into sugars by your digestive system. When that happens, your pancreas responds by making insulin. Insulin tells your body to use sugar in the blood as energy or for storage. Every body needs energy just for daily living. Obviously, active bodies need even more. Fuel your body right with helpful carbs like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. Quality carbs burn more slowly and help support stable blood sugar levels.
Why is it that so many things that taste so good are so bad for optimal health? Sure, a doughnut and coffee is great for a quick breakfast, but health wise, that isn’t the best choice. Refined carbohydrates (think doughnuts, white bread, and white rice) can be harmful when consumed too frequently. In fact, these common staples of the American diet have strong links to poor health outcomes. In other words, too many doughnuts today may mean diabetes, weight gain and heart disease tomorrow.
Choosing carbohydrates for a healthy lifestyle
We already know that when it comes to carbs, quality counts. Each time you eat you have an opportunity to choose something that benefits your immediate and long term health. Aim to choose well at least most of the time. The follow tips can help:
- Choose minimally packaged and processed foods.
- Snack smart, for example choose a few whole grain crackers and cheese rather than chips.
- Choose fruit, which has more fiber and fewer calories and sugar than fruit juice.
- Plan meals in advance (you can usually expect to make poor food choices when you are starving).
- Read labels carefully. When you are eating packaged carbs (like cereal or crackers) be sure whole grain is the first ingredient listed.
- Explore different grains as an alternative to potatoes. Examples include wheat berries, quinoa, and bulgur.
- Try steel cut oatmeal with fruit for breakfast or a whole grain bar instead of doughnuts. Whole wheat bagels with peanut butter are also a good choice.
There is nothing wrong with choosing chips or doughnuts and the like on occasion. The key with these kinds of carbs is moderation. With some planning and research, it is possible to eat for health and enjoyment. If your carb intake is a little too heavy with choices you’d like to change; begin by exploring. For example, if you don’t like bulgur maybe you will like brown rice. Among the benefits of whole grains are steady blood sugar levels and reduced likelihood of colorectal cancer and heart disease. Additionally, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, regularly consuming whole grains reduces your chances of premature death from non-cardiac, non-cancer causes as well. Carbohydrates on the whole are not harmful, but some carb choices can be. Choose well so that your intake of carbohydrates supports your overall health goals.