Carbs confusion is rife...
And it’s really no wonder. With headlines and articles giving the impression that "carbs are bad" many of us are confused about carbohydrates, although they play an important role for our health and to maintain a healthy weight.
Even the word “carbohydrates” covers a wide category; not all carbs are equal so what’s key is recognising the type, quality and quantity of carbs in our diets?
Starchy foods in themselves are not fattening, our bodies turn these starches into sugars, and fibre into glucose, for the energy our bodies need to function. It’s the added fats – usually butter or oil – frequently used in cooking or serving that increases the calorie content.
Nutrient-dense foods often are lower in calories compared to other foods with fewer nutrients. For example, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts, beans, seeds and certain oils are all considered nutrient dense.
Don’t ditch, switch!
- A small handful of plain, unsalted nuts – almonds, hazelnuts or peanuts - can have as much as 3g of fibre.
- Add raisins, sultanas or cranberries and you’ve a sweet snack any time of the day.
- Buy brown rice or wholemeal pasta instead of processed white varieties.
- Wholewheat or bread with grains or seeds, from your local baker, will have fewer additives and will be packed full of nutrients.
Complex carbs are full of fibre as well as naturally occurring nutrients so consuming foods high in fibre gives that feeling of being full, contributes to a healthy digestive system and makes overeating less likely. You’ll get most benefit from choosing wholegrain varieties, multi-grain bread and potatoes with their skins on, for their fibre content.
Evidence from nutritional research indicates that the fibre found in wholegrain starchy carbs is good for our health. Wholegrain cereals will contribute to your daily intake of iron, fibre, B vitamins and protein, and a diet rich in fibre is also associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, Type II diabetes and bowel cancer.
Mix it up...
- Replace cereals high in sugars for wholegrain cereals.
- Plain porridge with fruit provides a filling, slow release of energy.
- Overnight oats, easily prepared in jars or sealed containers to grab and go.
- Adding raisins, nuts, bananas or strawberries to any cereal.
- A baked potato for lunch, eating the skin for valuable fibre.
- Cut the sauce and increase the veg with some brown rice or pasta.
- Look for seeded, wholemeal and granary breads.
- Versatile brown rice can make the basis of a filling, tasty salad with and chopped veg or pulses.
- Cauliflower rice is quick, delicious and with 15% of the Checks of traditional rice.
Fuel your body and learn to love your good carbs, essential energy for every day of your life.