Opting for Healthier Carbohydrates
We all seem to love carbohydrates, and at times it feels like we can't get enough of them. We try to cut them out of our diet to lose weight, but when we add them back in, we tend to go overboard and regain some weight again.
Well, maybe we can make better choices and keep this food group in our meals to prevent our craving for them. We can choose healthier carbohydrates by choosing fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains which are all considered to be resistant starches. They have more fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and plant protein. By eating enough of such foods, we maintain a constant blood sugar level which will reduce our hunger. Refrigerated white rice or pasta will produce a resistant starch and allow us to keep it in our diet as well.
Fiber helps us to push food through our gastrointestinal tract to reduce risk of cancers such as colon cancer. This act of pushing the food through our GI tract can also considerably reduce constipation. When we add fiber to our meals, it satiates us faster because the stomach feels fuller. It also slows down the absorption of sugar into our bloodstream. For these reasons, we eat less and don't get hungry in between meals. It maintains our blood sugar at a good level and reduces insulin resistance. Therefore, fiber also reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
When choosing fruits and vegetables, look for dark green, red, yellow, orange, or even purple colors. These are the foods that will be high in antioxidants and vitamins as well as fiber. These are essential to reduce cell damaging radicals which can lead to cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, malnutrition, inflammation, and risk of developing certain types of cancer. Also, they will improve our skin, which will make us look younger and healthier. Apples, bananas, berries and oranges are all great choices.
Vegetables that also fall into this category are beets, broccoli, chard, collard greens, kale and potatoes. Carrots are great, too, but should be eaten raw since cooking them increases their sugar content. Purple potatoes are a great option to eat, but they can be costly and hard to find in some locations.
Beans are great way to fulfill our carbohydrate and fiber needs as well. Black beans, red kidney beans, and lentils are just a few of the many varieties that are available and allow us to have diversity in our meals.
Buckwheat, bulgur, rye, and rice are excellent examples of some of the wonderful grains rich in healthy carbohydrates available to us. Buckwheat is also high in fiber, vitamins and protein and contains no gluten for those suffering from celiac disease. Rice can be found in white, brown, red, and black colors; the darker the rice, the more the antioxidant content. As mentioned before, if we are going to eat white rice, it is better to refrigerate it first. This will make it a resistant starch and better for our blood sugar levels.
Nuts such as almond, pistachio, pumpkin, sunflower, and walnut are also great. They can be added to salads or eaten as a snack between meals. However, keep in mind that they can contain a lot of calories and should be eaten in moderation.
So we can still enjoy carbohydrates, we just need to be smart and choose these healthier options. These choices will reduce our risks of developing some chronic diseases such as diabetes and perhaps help us to control our waistlines.