Carbohydrates are the key to a healthy diet, according to a nutritionist

Although carbohydrates have been a bad name for many years and are considered a disorder of some popular diets, nutritionists remind us that carbohydrates are a key component of a healthy diet.

Carla Duenas, RDN, CDCES, Registered Baptist Nutritionist with the South Florida Department of Community Health

“Carbohydrates are the primary nutrient that is easily converted to glucose or blood sugar,” says Carla Duenas, a certified dietitian, diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES) at the Baptist Community Health Department. Health South Florida. “Carbohydrates provide the energy your muscles and brain need to work.”

Duenas says carbohydrates provide important vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. However, when you eat too much, not as part of a balanced diet, he says, carbohydrates can easily cause high blood sugar levels, leading to health problems such as weight gain, endurance and insulin.

“Choosing the right carbohydrates, using the right amount for your needs, is possible if you are going to include them in your daily diet,” says Duenas, adding that there are “simple” and “complex” carbohydrates. “Some carbohydrates are better than others,” he warns.

simple carbohydrates

Duenas says that simple carbohydrates are carbohydrates that can be broken down quickly for energy, making it easier to raise blood sugar levels. These include natural foods such as fruit and milk, as well as refined sugary products such as cookies, breads and other desserts, as well as sugary sugary drinks. The natural sugars found in whole fruits are considered healthy when eaten, as opposed to their juice, as they are high in fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients, he says.

Not surprisingly, refined sugar products are the least nutritious, he says. On average, Americans get about 13% of their daily calories from added sugar, the sweetener that many people add to their coffee or tops the list of ingredients for many sugary drinks. “These simple carbohydrates, especially sugary sodas and other beverages, have really contributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States,” Duenas said.

complex carbohydrates

Known as “healthy carbohydrates” because they tend to be more nutritious, complex carbohydrates take longer to be converted to glucose, either because of their molecular structure or because of the large amount of fiber that Duenas says helps. slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates և raising the blood. sugars.

“Most of us probably know what healthy carbs are,” says Duenas. “These include plant-based foods that provide fiber, vitamins and minerals, as well as phytochemicals such as whole grains, beans, and starchy vegetables.”

Whole grains vs.. refined grains

Whole grains are healthier than whole grains, according to Duenas, because they are in their original state, which is the seed or kernel of the grain. “Whole grains have more nutrients than refined grains, which consist of seeds, one or more layers of which have been removed,” explains Duenas. “Some examples of whole grains are whole wheat, corn, brown rice, oats, barley, quinoa, sorghum, wheat and rye.”

Duenas recommends reading food labels և looking for brands that provide at least 5% fiber per serving. “The key word to look for when reading a list of ingredients is the word ‘integral’ or ‘complete’ in English,” he added.

fruits և juices

Some people avoid fruits and juices because they contain sugar or follow a fad diet that eliminates all carbohydrates. “We have to keep in mind that the whole fruit is different,” explains Duenas. “A glass of orange juice is not the same as a whole orange because it has no fiber.” He says one orange provides a small amount of sugar combined with fiber, while a glass of juice contains five to six orange sugars without any healthy fiber. “Fruit juices, even if they are not sweetened, are not the best way to drink regularly,” adds Duenas.

What is the right amount of carbohydrates?

Factors such as physical activity, age, weight, height և health history can determine how many carbohydrates you should eat daily. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s “My Plate” guidelines, about 25% of your daily “plate” should consist of whole grains or complex carbohydrates. Half of the daily intake should consist of whole fruits։ vegetables, and the remaining 25% should consist of lean protein. “It’s better to choose lean or low-fat poultry,” Duenas advises.

Many restaurant menus now offer whole grain options, says Duenas, which makes it easier to eat healthier while eating out. “Always ask if they have brown rice or whole wheat pasta or crust,” he suggests. “It’s not the end of the world, if they do not have it, just make sure your diet includes salads or vegetables, non-fat protein.” Unfortunately, Duenas adds that most restaurant meals are large enough to feed two people and contain too many carbohydrates, which makes it difficult to control the dose.

According to American dietary guidelines, healthy carbohydrates with good sources of dietary fiber include:

  • Whole grain cereals (unsweetened)
  • Bulgur wheat
  • Avena
  • Whole wheat
  • Beans և grains. (“Think beans, beans, pinto beans, peas / garbanzo, sea beans, lentils,” says Duenas.)
  • Fruits: vegetables, especially edible peels (apples, corn, beans, etc.) և edible seeds (blueberries, pomegranates, etc.).
  • Nuts և seeds. “Try different types,” suggests Duenas.

When it comes to carbohydrate choices, Duenas says, keep in mind that the quality of the carbohydrates consumed is important, as is the quantity. “Chestnut rice is healthier because it’s whole grain: contains fiber, but that does not mean you have to add more to your plate,” he says.

Carla Duenas, Baptist Community Health Department, Carbohydrates

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