Spinach pasta with basil and feta.
Lisa M Baragiola

Carbohydrate Conflicted?

Carbohydrate Conflicted?

Carbohydrates (carbs) are like friends; you want to choose the right ones and quality is more important than quantity.  We’re often bombarded with nutritional information leaving us frustrated and confused. Instead, we want to look at the facts and decide what is best for us. It’s amazing the power we give food and in many cases the ability to intimidate us. Sometimes it sounds like individuals are afraid of carbohydrates. Choosing the right carbohydrate is healthier than restricting or eliminating. It is one of the three macronutrients alongside fat and protein your body needs in large amounts. Foods high in carbohydrates are important because they break down into glucose. Glucose or blood sugar is the main source of energy for your body’s cells, tissues, and organs, including the brain.

Three Main Types of Carbohydrates

Sugar (Simple)

The simplest form is digested quickly, sending glucose immediately to the bloodstream. Examples include pies, candy, cakes, and cookies. These foods are often labeled “bad”, instead consider them “sometimes” foods. Enjoy them in moderation as part of a balanced eating plan.

Starch and Fiber (Complex)

Many sugar units bonded together that the body digests more slowly, therefore you feel full longer. This also causes a more gradual increase in blood sugar compared to simple carbs. Examples include fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains. Some studies suggest whole grains and fiber may reduce the risk of certain diseases. Fiber is essential for digestive health.

General guidelines for a balanced diet recommend 45 – 65% of total calories consumed in a day consist of carbs. This means a 2000 calorie diet would include 900 – 1300 calories from carbs or 225 – 325 grams of carbs. This isn’t the same approach for athletes or active individuals who typically require more carbohydrates. Regardless of your position on carbohydrate intake, it is an essential macronutrient. Instead of eliminating, focus on a variety of mainly unprocessed or minimally processed foods that will support your energy needs.


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