C-A-R-B-S: Let’s Break It Down

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I’m feeling a real need to get back to the basics for a moment. Covering the latest wellness trends are certainly important but sometimes I just need to take a step back to highlight some of the basics. So, let’s talk carbs. And let’s also talk gluten-free carbs (because yes, they’re still carbs).

What are carbs?

Carbohydrates are an important nutrient found in many different types of foods. Most of us equate carbs with bread and pasta, but you can also find them in:

Carbohydrates are made up of three components: sugar, starch, and fiber. Sugar is a simple carb, while fiber and starch are complex carbs. We’ll break down simple vs complex in a minute.

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The main purpose of carbohydrates in the diet is to provide energy. Most carbs get broken down or transformed into glucose (or sugar), which can be used as energy. Carbs can also be turned into fat (stored energy) for later use. However, carbs should be eaten in moderation to prevent your pancreas from overworking. Too many carbs = skyrocketing blood sugar = your pancreas working overtime to produce enough insulin to keep the body regulated.

Simple Carbs vs. Complex Carbs

Simple carbs are sugars. Refined sugar is basically everywhere as it relates to processed foods. Try to avoid or reduce some of the most common sources of simple carbs and look for alternatives to satisfy those sweet cravings. It’s key to read those labels carefully and be aware of your sugar intake on a daily basis. This is where choosing to eat a mostly whole food diet really plays a pivotal role in your health and overall well being.

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Simple Carbs to Avoid

1. Soda

Choose sparkling water or infused still water.

2. Packaged Treats or Cookies 
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a piece of fruit, a smoothie, or try making your own raw cookies or energy bites.

3. Fruit Juice
Avoid pasteurized juice or juice from concentrate and opt for fresh pressed juice.

4. Breakfast Cereal
Breakfast cereals tend to be loaded with simple carbohydrates.

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Complex carbs pack in more nutrients than simple carbs because they’re higher in fiber and slower to digest. This also makes them more filling. Gluten free carbs tend to have an even higher concentration of nutrients. Complex carbs are important for people with type 2 diabetes because they help manage post-meal blood sugar spikes.

Fiber and starch are the two types of complex carbohydrates. Fiber is especially important because it promotes bowel regularity and helps to control cholesterol. The main sources of dietary fiber include:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • beans
  • whole grains

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Starch is also found in some of the same foods as fiber. The difference is certain foods are considered more starchy than fibrous, such as potatoes. Other high-starch foods are: (so you’ll want to eat these in moderation)

  • whole wheat bread
  • cereal
  • corn
  • oats
  • peas
  • rice

Complex Carbs You Should Incorporate Into Your Diet:

1. Grains
Grains are good sources of fiber, as well as potassium, magnesium, and selenium. Choose less processed grains and consider opting for gluten-free rather than wheat which can wreach havoc on your body (click here to learn more). Gluten free grains such as oats, brown rice, quinoa (technically a seed), buckwheat, amaranth, are all good options.

2. Fiber-Rich Fresh Fruits
Fresh fruits such as apples, berries, and bananas are a great choice.

3. Fiber-Rich Vegetables
Eat more veggies, including broccoli, dark leafy greens, and carrots.

4. Beans
Aside from fiber, these are good sources of folate, iron, and potassium.

Choosing the right carbs can take time and practice as can finding the right balance. With a little bit of research and a keen eye for nutrition labels, you can start making healthier choices that will energize your body and protect it from long-term complications.

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And yes, eating a ketogenic diet (low carb diet) is also quite popular these days. Keto is certainly not for everyone so do your research to see if it’s right for you. Click on the highlight to learn more from our Keto post.

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Sure hoping you found this post helpful! We welcome all feedback and comments.

Healthy blessings,

The Blendtopia Team xx

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