What Exactly are Carbohydrates? Grains, starches, pasta, breads and fruits and vegetables.

We are obsessed today with “fat free” and so we believe carbohydrates will make us build muscles faster, aid recovery from cardiovascular disease, and help us lose weight.

What an amazing food group!
Here’s the catch.

Carbohydrates, Fruits, Vegetables

Grains as high-density carbohydrates such as cereals, breads, and pasta are a relatively new food, historically speaking.

So, the superiority of carbohydrates in our diets is actually plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and grains in moderation.

You’d have to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables to equal the carbohydrates found in the carbohydrate-dense grains, starches and pastas.  You get fiber and far more nutrients from fruits and vegetables.

Not that you should avoid grains, just eat them in moderation.  A diet of variety is of utmost importance.

The Glycemic Index

At the risk of getting too technical and detailed, it’s important to discuss sugars.

Carbohydrates have to be broken down into simple sugars (glucose) before entering the blood stream.  This brings us to the “glycemic index.”  The higher the glycemic index of a carbohydrate the faster it enters the bloodstream as sugar.

Soluble fiber slows this rate of entry.  Cooking methods also vary this rate.  Basically, the more you cook a carbohydrate the higher the entry.  The higher the glycemic index, or entry into your bloodstream, the worse it is for you.

Now, here are some surprises for you.

Taking into consideration the glycemic index of carbohydrates, the soluble fiber content, and cooking methods, let’s look at some comparisons.

  • An apple is better for you than bran. Not surprised?
  • How about this: ice cream is better than a bagel.
  • Sugar is better than cornflakes.
  • One of the very highest in glycemic index is rice cakes! Did you know that?

It’s really a matter of common sense once you understand the concept.

Figure it this way:  the closer a food is to its natural state, the “better” it is for you.

Ice cream is more natural than cereal (because of the multitude of additives, etc., in the cereal).  Of course, an apple is better than ice cream.  Remember, moderation!

You can eat fruits and vegetables to your heart’s content (pun intended) and other foods in moderation.

Once you’ve completed the change in diet, you won’t crave foods that are bad for you. 

Once you find the balance that is right for you, you’ll understand because you will feel so much better, look better, think clearer, and live a longer, healthier life.

Here’s an interesting tidbit of information: One fast food cheeseburger has as much fat as 50 apples, 30 cups of whole wheat pasta or 80 cups of broccoli. Hmmm. Seems like more fat than we should be able to eat! (It is.)

Once you’ve started adopting sound nutrition as a part of your every day life, ask yourself, “How do I feel?”

If you’re not feeling noticeably better in two weeks, rethink your “balance.”  Everyone is different. What works for one person may not work for another.