Weekend: The simple, yet complex, truth about carbohydrates

By KRISTEN TROPF

Many of you might hear the saying, “Carbs are bad for you!”

That statement is false. Carbs are not bad for you. In fact, they are your body’s main source of energy.

Carbohydrates have numerous health benefits and our body needs them to function correctly.

Consuming carbohydrates is important to the body to ensure that it has what it needs to function at peak performance. There are two different classes of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Both classes contain their own individual benefits for our bodies.

Simple carbohydrate foods include white bread, bran flakes, white pasta, pretzels and fruit juices. Some examples of complex carbohydrates are 100-percent whole-grain breads, oatmeal, sweet potatoes and brown rice.

Wiser carb choices, such as complex carbs, are recommended for all Americans due to their higher fiber content, which the average American lacks, according to the Journal of Nutrition.

Healthier choices of carbohydrates from dairy products are skim milk, cottage cheese and yogurt.

Vegetable options could consist of tomatoes, onions, carrots, spinach, broccoli and green beans.

Examples of fruit options are apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries and apricots. Whole grains, such as brown rice, wheat bread, barley, oats and quinoa are all good examples of complex carbs.

All of the above options (and more) provide adequate fiber, which results in feeling full sooner and longer. So, the healthier choice is to consume more complex carbohydrates and reduce the amount of processed foods being eaten.

When dealing with certain chronic conditions like diabetes, complex carbohydrates are generally the wiser choice. However, not all simple carbohydrates are bad. For example, if a person with diabetes has low blood sugar, they may use a simple carb to bring their level back to optimal range.

When looking at a diet for people with diabetes, blood sugar levels need to be stable. Complex carbohydrates work well because they digest and release a lot steadier, assisting in a balanced blood sugar level throughout the day.

Also, complex carbs give our bodies more of a “full” feeling after ingesting them. Sometimes, when consuming too many simple carbohydrates, they can leave you hungry shortly after, due to the up-and-down fluctuation of blood sugar and lack of fiber.

Again, carbs are not bad for you, but simple and complex carbs will react differently in your body. Try to choose complex carbs because they have more overall benefits, such as: digestion, aid in losing weight, maintaining a healthy heart, and maintaining fullness.

You can gain more understanding on carbohydrates by visiting the American Diabetes Association online at www.diabetes.org

To wrap things up, it is important to be mindful about the carbohydrates you consume. Select your dairy products and refined grain products carefully.

Try to eat more fiber-rich whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains products which would be “complex” carbohydrates. This way, your carbs will be “good for you!”

Tropf is a Bluffton University dietetic intern with the Ohio State University Extension of Hancock County.



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