Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: What is the Difference?

For the past few years, the major health industry buzzwords have been “good carbs” and “bad carbs”. At one point, mainstream media was all about cutting out all carbs from a diet. However, in recent years, the media has retracted that statement. Through multiple studies and information from qualified health professionals, it is shown that eating good carbs are a crucial component of a balanced and healthy eating plan. How would someone know what is considered a good carb versus a bad carb?

First, it is important to know what carbohydrates are. Carbohydrates are the energy source of the body. They not only provide fuel for the body, but carbohydrates also fuel the brain. They help the body stay satisfied longer after a meal, and stabilize blood sugar levels. A person should aim to eat at least 40 percent carbohydrates each day to ensure good health. Most carbohydrates are also full of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that your body needs to stay strong, disease free, and healthy. However, there are some carbohydrates that must be avoided for optimum health and wellness.

Good carbs provide sustained energy to an individual and are found primarily in nature. These high fiber foods include fresh fruits (not processed fruits, not fruit drinks, and not canned fruits), fresh vegetables, and whole grain foods (such as boiled pearled barley, whole grain oats, quinoa, brown rice, and oatmeal). Good carbs are abundant in the produce section of the grocery store, but their shelf life is very limited (most fresh fruits and vegetables go bad within a week). Frozen fruits and vegetables last a longer period of time and are just as healthy as the fresh varieties. Good carbs do not cause a sharp rise in blood sugar levels after meals. These types of carbohydrates are definitely key to a healthy, balanced diet.

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An example of a meal made with good carbohydrates is a piece of baked or grilled salmon topped with chopped fresh pineapple and red bell pepper, and sides of brown rice and steamed broccoli and carrot medley. This type of meal is delicious, and packed with good carbohydrates.

Bad carbs, on the other hand, are the manmade, highly processed, refined carbs that have been stripped of all nutritional value. Most of these foods contain added salts and sugars, which are bad for your heart and for your waistline. Despite the nutritional emptiness of these carbs, they may have a good taste because of the sugar and other food additives, which causes many people to select the bad carbs more often. These bad carbs include white flour or enriched flour, white sugar, lunch meats, regular sodas, fruit juices and drinks, white bread, white pastas, and baked goods like cookies, cakes, and pies. Digestion of these carbs is very quick and the absorption of these types of carbs will cause unnecessary weight gain. Bad carbs are a major contributor to the diseases of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.

An example of a meal that is full of bad carbs is a hamburger on a white bun, with processed cheese, french fries, and a regular Mountain Dew. All the food additives, the refined flours, and high sugar content will negate any health progress that was made.

In conclusion, it is imperative to improve health by improving nutrition. Avoid bad carbs and consume good carbs at each meal, and the body will continue to have incredible energy and optimum health for life.

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