List of Good & Bad Carbs
Figuring out what to eat for health and weight loss has become so confusing to most. There’s always some new study coming out about carbs, but what’s most important in terms of shedding excess weight and living healthier isn’t really about carbs as a whole, it’s about good carbs vs bad carbs.
Many of you may already know that certain carbs promote health while others, if eaten too frequently or in large amounts, can lead to health problems. If you are someone who needs to watch their carbs, or if you are just paying more attention to the amount and type of carbs you consume, this list will help you decipher good carbs and bad carbs.
Most people should consume between 50 and 60% of their calories from carbohydrates. However, that doesn’t mean the types of carbs you find in candy, cookies and other highly processed foods. SO, for those who are having trouble knowing what to choose, this list basically breaks down foods into simple (Bad) carbs and complex carbs (Good).
We all need to learn to fill our daily meals with real food. Reach for a whole orange instead of orange “vitamin water,” or choosing brown rice over white rice. The less processed and refined a carb is, the healthier and better for your health & waistline it is.
Steer clear of fake carbs made in factories or laboratories that are so overly processed, and are stripped of fiber, nutrients, and water, then filled with added fat, salt and sugar, becoming something our bodies do not recognize as food.
Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs
Why are good carbs like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains so good for us? Let me count the ways.
Good Carbs Are:
- Low to moderate in calorie content, so we can eat filling amounts and satisfy our hunger, without going overboard.
- Rich in an enormous variety of nutrients.
- Devoid of refined sugars and refined grains, which is so important as daily tsunamis of sugar in our bloodstream are directly linked to our current epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
- High in naturally occurring fiber, which helps lower not only blood sugar and insulin levels but also LDL bad cholesterol. Fiber-rich foods also help you fill up on fewer calories so that you can lose weight more easily. A high-fiber diet also helps prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, and certain cancers. Americans average just 12 to 15 grams of fiber a day. Nutrition experts say we ought to be getting at least 35 to 50 fiber grams daily.
- Low in sodium.
- Low in saturated fat.
- Very low (often zero) cholesterol, and no trans fats.
Fake, Processed (bad) Carbs Are:
- High in calorie density.
- High in refined sugars (white sugar, corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners that are just as bad and sometimes worse).
- High in refined grains like white flour.
- Low or devoid in nutrients.
- Low or devoid in fiber.
- High (often very high) in sodium.
- Sometimes high in saturated fat.
- Sometimes high in cholesterol and trans fats.
From the lists above, it’s easy to see how a diet rich in good carbs can lead to a lean body and good health, and how a diet of processed carbs like white flour and sat-fat-rich foods have busted not only our health but our health-care system.
To break this down further, the words “complex” and “simple” carbs are terms that deal with how food/sugar is broken down into energy in the body. Complex carbs are the ones that give your body the best fuel, and are usually found in foods high in fiber. These items break down more slowly, which provides a steady blood sugar level through the day and making you feel less hungry and irritable when mid-afternoon rolls around.
Because these good carb foods tend to have higher fiber and lower calories than many processed bad carb foods, you’ll find yourself feeling fuller while eating fewer calories. You can also find that you’re eating a larger volume of food.
If you think about the kinds of foods you’re adding and the ones you’re giving up, this makes sense. It would take a lot more fruit to equal the same number of calories you’d eat in a candy bar, and you’ll probably feel satisfied after one piece or serving of fruit which is much lower in calories than the candy bar. Even better, you’ll feel satisfied for a long period of time and won’t feel the need for another unhealthy snack later in the day.
Get more of these carbs into your daily diet:
- Fresh fruit, ideally those with a low glycemic indexes like apricots, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Whole grains and foods made from whole grains, such as certain types of bread and cereal
- Dairy products that are not sweetened with sugar, such as Greek yogurt, sour cream, cheese & kefir.
- Non-dairy Milk like Coconut, Non-GMO Soy, Almond, Hemp, and Cashew.
The body quickly breaks down simple carbs, giving your blood sugar a spike and sending you running back to the kitchen or snack machine within hours of your last fix. Unless you’re an athlete or need a sudden rush of energy, it’s usually best to avoid these carbs in your daily diet:
- Refined grains like white bread, white rice and enriched pasta
- White potatoes
- Processed foods such as cake, candy, cookies and chips
- Sweetened soft drinks along with
Not a Strict Rule
Just because some foods have less desirable carbs does not mean you should kick them out of your life forever. A list of good carbs and bad carbs should not be seen as a strict rule. You should get most of your carbs each day from the “good” list, but you certainly don’t have to cut out everything all of the time, as long as you eat the bad items in moderation.
Good Carbs/Bad Carbs List
- Dark Leafy Greens (all types like spinach, kale, collards, arugula, bok choy)
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