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The Truth about Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates. What constitutes a bad carbohydrate (carb) versus a good carbohydrate and why do we need them?

Over the years, carbohydrates have been given a bad rap.  Sure, some of it is warranted, as splurging on high-glycemic carbs such as bagels and donuts is never encouraged. However, carbohydrates have nutrients that provide an important source of energy for our body.  Our digestive system changes carbs into glucose, which is used as fuel for our cells and organs.  With that in mind, choosing the right carbs to energize our bodies is the key.

Carbs come in various forms, such as sugars, fibers and starches.  How do you determine which carbs are good for you and which are potentially harmful? 

When I go grocery shopping, I start on the outside of the store and I fill my cart with food that is nutritious, whole and perishable, instead of food that is found in boxes at the center of the store.  Highly processed foods such as crackers, cereals, breads and pastries are going to fill you up with empty calories and burn you out quickly.  It’s so much easier knowing exactly what the product is that you’re putting in your body instead of obsessing over labels and calculating ingredients.

The best carbohydrate comes from foods such as organic veggies & fruits, which includes fiber, minerals & enzymes.  Processed carbs is what you want to stay away from.

Here are my top 10 favorite sources of healthy carbohydrates that will keep you energized and healthy:

  1. Legumes.  Beans and lentils are slower to digest and will keep you satisfied and energized.  They are also good sources of protein and fiber, which is great for building muscle. Enjoy as a side dish, thrown into a salad or as a main course.
  2. Apples.  A high source of fiber, apples will also satisfy your sweet tooth.  Eat alone or throw into a smoothie.  Here’s a recipe.

Bananas.  A good source of energy while also providing your body with potassium, bananas are great for the heart, muscles and digestion.  Spread some of your favorite almond butter on top for a delicious snack; the kids will love it.

  1. Broccoli.  Yep, you can find carbs in broccoli, along with iron and dietary fiber.
  2. Carrots.  Easy to grab and go, carrots are full of beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, potassium and they are a natural antioxidant. You can also juice it and throw in some beets and some cayenne pepper to liven things up and satisfy your sweet tooth.
  3. Sweet Potatoes.  With a lower glycemic index than white potatoes and rich in flavor, sweet potatoes are a good source of iron, magnesium and potassium, while providing fiber and vitamin A.
  4. Barley.  A natural antioxidant, barley is high in fiber and has been known to aid in maintaining blood sugar, lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease.
  5. Quinoa. (Say it with me, KEEN-WAH) The ancient Mayans were huge fans of quinoa, which is easy to prepare and also a good source of protein and fiber, making it a go-to staple for vegans and vegetarians.  I like to cook it in broth to give it extra flavor and serve as a substitute for rice or pasta.
  6. Squash. Zucchini, yellow squash, acorn squash. With fall around the corner, these are perfect vegetables to add to a warm, hearty dish. The squash family is high in fiber and easy to prepare on the grill, sautéed, or baked in the oven.
  7. Oatmeal.  High in fiber, oatmeal is slow to digest, making it a great source of carbs and a good choice to start the day.  I make mine from scratch on the stove, which is quick and easy and a warm way to start the morning.  Top it off with some blueberries to sweeten things up.

Looking for delicious, healthy recipes featuring good carbs, healthy fats and hormone and antibiotic-free meats?  Click here for some of our favorites.  Or if you have some recipes you think we should check out, let us know in the comments below.  We’re all in this together; life is about lifting each other up.

–Gabby

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