(Updated on 1/5/2020)
Carbohydrates are one of the main parts of our nutrition. They provide us with sugar and subsequently with energy.
Undoubtedly, we need energy to function, just as a car needs gas to move.
That said, some experts blame carbs for the increasing number of obese individuals. Particularly because a large number of individuals in our society are hooked and addicted to carbs, primarily the sugar enriched products.
What are carbohydrates?
Are they really to blame for our society’s failure to manage obesity?
Before answering this question, let us review a few facts about carbs.
Here are three kinds of carbs in our foods,
1) Starches: some people call them “complex carbohydrates”
Foods high in starch
You can find starches in a wide variety of common foods.
Do you know any foods containing starch?
Don’t worry, we’ll review some of them right here.
You can find starch in,
- Vegetables, such as potatoes, lima beans, corn, and peas.
- Grains like rice, barley, and oats
- In beans, lentils, and peas.
Before we go any further, I’d like to ask you the following question:
Why is eating whole preferred to refined grains?
As a rule, experts recommend eating whole grains rather than refined grains. To understand this recommendation, I’d like to explain the difference between whole and refined grains.
Whole grains are less processed and modified than refined grains. Certainly, when we talk about processed food, less is more.
Structure of grains
The grain contains 3 major parts/layers. These three layers beginning from outside going towards the center are,
Bran is part of high fiber cereal because bran provides the most fiber. Bran covers the next layer called germ that contains essential fatty acids (these are fatty acids that the body can’t make) and vitamin E.
The center of the grain “endosperm” provides us with starch.
The outer layers of the grain are harder to chew. Therefore, most consumers prefer the refined grain, which is easier to consume.
Nevertheless, you should eat whole foods that deliver the entire spectrum of nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Why you should eat fiber
I’ve written extensively about fiber and its benefits to our health. Consumption of fiber is inadequate in our society, and its benefits not much appreciated.
It’s important to distinguish between soluble and insoluble fiber.
The following is an excerpt from “Lowering LDL-cholesterol and Triglycerides through Diet –Fiber”
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant products and is divided into two types based on water solubility. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forms a gel-like material, and is found mainly in oats, apples, citrus, peas, barley, pectin, flaxseed, guar, and beans. Insoluble fiber is found in whole wheat flour, wheat bran, cellulose, lignin, nuts, and many vegetables.
A commonly known form of carbohydrates is sugar. We have several forms of sugar. For instance, sugar found in fruits is fructose, the sugar found in milk is lactulose and sucrose is the table sugar.
Why added sugar is poisonous to your body
Added-sugar is the extra sugar poured into our food, for instance, sugary drinks, cakes, and snacks.
You may wonder why sugar in fruit could be hazardous to your health.
Let me explain.
Fruit contains fiber, vitamins, minerals and fructose.
How many apples or oranges can you eat in seconds?
Not too many people have the desire or the ability to eat more than one or a maximum of two apples every time. But it’s much easier to drink the juice of several apples in a few seconds.
In essence, the consumption of empty calories (pure calories without any other nutritional benefit) is harmful to your body.
Why you should avoid drinking fruit juices
What is wrong with fruit juices? Fruit juices are full of empty calories.
You might think that by drinking fruit juice, you will receive an extra boost of vitamin C, D, and omega 3.
But in reality, to receive the above small benefit, you have to consume larger amounts of harmful calories.
Fruit juices are well packaged, look, and taste good and are easy to consume. I agree with all of the above. But despite all these a fruit juice can’t compete with the benefits of eating fruit.
Fresh fruit contains fiber, and it smells and looks great (usually). Eating it activates our chewing and taste buds. And often, it has fewer calories.
What are the healthiest and unhealthiest sources of carbohydrates?
Eating carbohydrates is critical to our health as long as you choose the healthier options.
Good carbs and the healthiest sources of carbohydrates are from:
- Whole grains
Bad carbs and the unhealthiest sources of carbohydrates are from:
- Refined grains
- Processed foods
We should stop blaming the carbs as the cause of the obesity epidemic. As usual, humans are the ones who deserve all the blame. In essence, how we make food and consume it contribute to our misery, and certainly not our mother nature.
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