Certain carbs promote health, but others can lead to health issues if eaten very frequently. Most of the people should consume between 50 and 60% of their calories from carbohydrates which are not the type of carbs you can find in cookies, candies, or other highly processed foods. We all need to choose wisely our meals and consume less processed and refined foods. However, people find it hard to distinct between the simple (bad) and complex (good) carbs. Fake carbs made in the factories or laboratories are overly processed and are stripped of fiber, nutrients, and water, filled with added fat, salt, and sugar become something the body is not able to recognize as food.
Good carbs are: rich in nutrients; calorie low; devoid of refined sugars and refined grains; have no trans fats and are low (often zero) in cholesterol; low in sodium and saturated fat; high in fiber which help in losing weight, lower blood sugar and insulin levels as well as bad cholesterol, prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, and certain types of cancer. We need to consume 30-50 fiber grams daily.
Bad carbs are: high in refined sugars; high in calorie density; high in refined grains like white flour; low or devoid in fiber; low or devoid in nutrients; high in sodium; high in saturated fat; high in cholesterol and trans fats.
Complex vs simple carbs
These two terms deal with how food/sugar is broken down into energy in the body, complex carbs provide the body with fuel and they break down more slowly providing steady blood sugar level and making you less hungry. They provide you with the feeling of being full while eating fewer calories and you won’t have the need for another unhealthy snack later in the day. Incorporate these good carbs into your diet: fresh fruits with low glycemic indexes like strawberries, raspberries, apricots, and blackberries; nuts; legumes; while grains and food made of them; non-starchy vegetables; non-dairy milk like coconut, non-GMO soy, almond, hemp, and cashew; and dairy products which are not sweetened with sugar like sour cream, Greek yogurt, kefir, and cheese.
Our bodies quickly break down simple carbs which giving our blood sugar a spike making us eat other snacks within hours of our last fix. If you don’t need a sudden rush of energy, then avoid these carbs in your daily diet: sugar; sweetened soft drinks; processed foods like cookies, chips, candy, and cake; white potatoes; refined grains such as white bread, white rice and enriched pasta.
Due to the fact that some foods have less desirable carbs, doesn’t mean that you should kick them out of your life forever, you may consume them as long as it is done not so often. This list will help you see which vegetables contain the good carbs, and which contain the bad carbs.
Good carbs list:
- Vegetables – peas, mushrooms, onion, all types of spinach, kale, collards, arugula, bok choy, asparagus, green peas, brussels sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, celery, jicama, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, artichokes, tomatoes, root vegetables like beets, parsnips, and carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, summer and winter squash, zucchini, cucumber, sea vegetables like dulce, wakame, and nori, radish, fennel, and garlic.
- Fruits – grapes, stone fruits like peach, plum, apricot, and cherries, citrus fruits, apples, pears, kiwi, tropical fruits like mango, papaya, and pineapple, melons, berries.
- Grains – brown rice, steelcut oats, whole wheat, quinoa, whole grain pasta, bran, wheat germ, whole oats, sprouted grains, millet, and amaranth.
- Nuts and seeds – pecans, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, pistachios, pine nuts, unsweetened nut butters, tahini, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and flaxseeds.
- Legumes – fava beans, lima beans, kidney beans, non-GMO soy beans, peanuts, peas, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans.
- Dairy products – cheese, unpasteurized milk, butter, sour cream, kefir, Greek yogurt.
- Snacks – kind, Clif, Marabar & Mama Chia bars, seaweed snacks, whole grain/non-GMO chips/crackers, olives, pickles, and air popped popcorn.
- Condiments – soy sauce/braggs liquid aminos, vinegar/apple cedar vinegar, pickle relish, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Sriracha, organic salad dressing.
- Sweeteners – pure raw honey, stevia, monk fruit in the raw, coconut palm sugar, real maple syrup.
- Beverages – tea (green, black, white), coffee, water/water with lemon, organic juices, red wine.
Bad carbs list:
- Vegetables – potatoes.
- Fruits – fruit roll-ups, fruit leather, fruit juices with added sugar, dried fruits with added sugar or preservatives.
- Grains – corn, baked goods like cakes and donut cookies, quick oats, cream of wheat, white rice, flour, bread and pasta, sugary, artificially colored breakfast cereal.
- Nuts and seeds – sweetened nut butters, candy coated nuts, honey roasted nuts, corn nuts.
- Legumes – sweetened peanut butter.
- Dairy products – pasteurized milk, ice cream, (artificially) sweetened yogurt.
- Snacks – pretzels, conventional potato and corn chips/crackers, candy, cookies, muffins and cupcakes, granola bars, rice cakes.
- Condiments – BBQ sauce, honey mustard, ketchup, low fat salad dressings.
- Sweeteners – corn syrup, refined white sugar, sucralose, aspartame, refined honey.
- Beverages – sweetened beverages, soda, sweet tea, sweetened juices, beer, sweet wines, and drink mixers.