Carbohydrates supply glucose, which your body converts to energy.
But not all carbs are created equal, and some experts believe that the type of carbs you eat — those with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients — matters more than the quantity.
This is important if you’re battling diabetes or pre-diabetes to avoid blood sugar spikes, or you simply want to stay as healthy as possible.
Put non-starchy vegetables at the top of the list, and choose from a rainbow of colors. Color indicates a vegetable’s unique group of nutrients, so you need orange carrots, leafy greens, purple eggplant and so on.
Fruit is a great way to satisfy a sweet craving. Just choose whole fruit rather than juice to get all its nutrition, including fiber.
Beans and other legumes — such as chickpeas, black-eyed peas and red lentils — are versatile carb powerhouses with a punch of protein, too.
Healthy whole grains also deserve a place in your diet. Whole wheat breads and pastas, rolled oats, rye, barley and quinoa have the nutrients that refined white flour products are missing. Ditto on replacing white rice with more wholesome brown rice varieties.
Beware of other starches, primarily white potatoes. They don’t even count as a vegetable on Harvard University’s Healthy Eating Plate because they’re high in the type of carb that the body digests quickly, resulting in a blood sugar and insulin surge, then dip — just like soda and candy. People also typically eat them in a fat-filled form, such as chips or fries, or mashed with tons of butter.
Replace them with sweet potatoes, but go easy on portion size and don’t load them with added sugar and fat. Even better, try roasting hard winter squashes, delicious on their own or with just a hint of cinnamon.
For links to everything you need to know about carbohydrates, visit Nutrition.gov.
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