Bieber, captcha codes, carbohydrates. What do these things have in common? Everyone seems to hate them. Especially carbs. Those damn starchy bastards. People seem to talk about carbs like a modern day plague. I’m waiting for the carbohydrate horror movie to be released – “When Carbs Attack!”
I’ve even started to check under my bed for carbs… you know, just in case. Sarcasm aside (for now), I think we need to highlight that there are many healthy carbs. Healthy carbs, often referred to as complex carbs (because of their chemical structure), are always accompanied by beneficial nutrients such fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. And they can help keep the waistline in check too.
So let’s make complex carbs a little simpler, and take a look at the healthy sources.
These foods are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. They also contain large amounts of fiber, which is an essential nutrient for regulating your digestive system and maintaining good blood sugar levels. Fiber also helps you feel fuller for longer, so you eat less total calories in the day.
Beware refined grains though, found in many muesli bars, children’s cereals, and white breads. These foods are easy to eat in large amounts and usually contain many additives including sugar. Basically, the grainier the food, the better, as it is the least refined choice. Examples are wheat, oats, rye, brown rice, and quinoa.
Fruits are another carbohydrate-rich food that are great for your health. Nature’s snack. They contain an abundance of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants too (the things that protect your cells from damage).
Newsflash: Some “experts” are now fuelling a new anti-fructose movement which can be very misleading. They’ve been citing studies that found high concentrations of high-fructose corn syrup cause weight gain and related health problems. And because of the fructose content in fruit, fruits are also being demonised.
To clarify: Yes, fruits contain fructose, but this is not the same as high fructose corn syrup. The syrup is manufactured (derived from corn), and added to all sorts of processed foods such as soda, fast foods, cereals, yoghurts, and condiments.
Fruits are 100% all-naturale, containing naturally occurring fructose + other healthy nutrients = GOOD.
Everyone’s favourite (sort of), vegies! Everyone knows vegies are good for health, so I won’t waste your time. But you should know that starchy vegies such as potatoes, parsnips, corn, and pumpkin contain the majority of carbs in this food group, so you can’t binge on those all day long.
Vegies are most nutritious when eaten raw (so try eat more raw pumpkin, ok?), but when cooking, it is best to bake or steam/microwave – vegetables that are boiled lose the water-soluble vitamins such as the B-vitamins and vitamin C.
Such a highly under-rated food group (except with vegetarians). These guys are a wholesome food source with nutrients that are very well-absorbed by the body. They’re rich in protein and virtually fat-free – unlike protein from animal sources. Beans are also high in fibre, and coupled with the protein, help you feel full quicker.
And beans are super simple to prepare for meals too. [Now you can insert fart joke here].
Bonus Carb Facts:
- As a general rule of thumb, aim to have no more than 30g of healthy carbs at main meals (hint: you’re probably eating too much spaghetti!)
- Every 1g of carbohydrate eaten binds to 4g of water – that’s why our weight fluctuates so greatly when we restrict carbs (and why low-carb diets have such a yo-yo effect on our weight).
- Dubbed the “ultimate” carbohydrate, quinoa (keen-wa) is the newest craze in the fitness world. It’s one of the few vegetarian sources that is a complete protein (contains all essential amino acids), full of minerals, and fibre to boot.
- Be weary of high sugar foods that add wholegrains in order to appear healthier. That’s just the food industry lying to you (again).
- I once found an apple under my bed (my nightly carb check). It was mouldy.