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Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: Why Carbohydrates Matter to You

The right type of carbohydrates can boost your health!
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What Are The Good Carbs?

Most of us know what the good carbs are: plant foods that deliver fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals along with grams of carbohydrate, such as whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. You can’t judge a carb as “good” without considering its fiber content (unless it’s a naturally low-fiber food like skim or low-fat milk).

Why Fiber in Carbohydrates Counts

Fiber is the part in plant foods that humans can’t digest. Even though fiber isn’t absorbed, it does all sorts of great stuff for our bodies.

Fiber slows down the absorption of other nutrients eaten at the same meal, including carbohydrates.

  • This slowing down may help prevent peaks and valleys in your blood sugar levels, reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes. 
  • Certain types of fiber found in oats, beans, and some fruits can also help lower blood cholesterol. 
  • As an added plus, fiber helps people feel full, adding to satiety.

The problem is that the typical American diet is anything but high in fiber.

“White” grain is the American mode of operation: we eat a muffin or bagel made with white flour in the morning, have our hamburger on a white bun, and then have white rice with our dinner.

In general, the more refined, or “whiter,” the grain-based food, the lower the fiber.

To get some fiber into almost every meal takes a little effort. Here are three tips:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Just eating five servings a day of fruits and vegetables will get you to about 10 or more grams of fiber, depending on your choices.
  • Include some beans and bean products in your diet. A half-cup of cooked beans will add from 4 to 8 grams of fiber to your day.
  • Switch to whole grains every single possible way (buns, rolls, bread, tortillas, pasta, crackers, etc).

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