Carbohydrates can be divided into three groups—starches, sugars, and fiber. Unfortunately, carbs have gotten a bad reputation in recent years, but, without them in your diet--at least the healthy carbohydrates, you will not feel well.
It is important for you to know that carbs can be part of a healthy lifestyle. The key is to choose the so-called “good carbs,” those that contain both energy-producing sugars and starches, but also have other nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and fiber.
At the same time, try to limit or avoid what may be called the “bad carbs,” which have more calories and fat than you need, without the benefit of the other nutrients that are so important to good health.
Since even healthy carbs provide calories, you will need to be aware of portion sizes. A little, usually a half a cup to a cup, can go a long way!
Here is a list of some good carbs that you can include as part of your healthy diet.
1. Fruits (especially lower glycemic ones like apples and berries)
2. Starchy Vegetables, such as peas, winter squash, corn, carrots, and potatoes
3. Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, leafy greens, green beans and zucchini
4. Whole grain bread and rolls
5. Pinto beans
6. Brown rice
7. Whole grain cereals such as oatmeal.
9. Whole grain pasta
10. Whole grain pilaf such as bulgur or Kashi
11. Popcorn (if of good quality, popped fresh with healthy fat or dry popped and served with a bit of unprocessed salt, if desired)
The popularity of low-carb diets has created a certain misunderstanding about carbs. Rather than restricting all carbohydrates, diets, such as the South Beach Diet, seem to be more about limiting high glycemic carbs (those that release sugar into your bloodstream very quickly). On this type of diet, fruits and grains are excluded from the first phase, but non-starchy vegetables are allowed. Later on, certain fruits, grains and starchy vegetables can be eaten in moderation, but the emphasis is always on the lowest glycemic carbs.
Be wary of diets that restrict all carbohydrates, even the healthy ones.
Fiber is one of the healthy carbohydrates.
The term fiber is used to describe certain complex organic compounds that are part of the carbohydrate family. Fibers may be either polysaccharides, such as cellulose or pectin, or non-polysaccharides, such as lignins. In either case, the structure of the molecules is such that these fibers are not easily broken down by your digestive system. This is in contrast to other carbohydrates, like most starches and sugars, which are easily digested.
One way to categorize fiber is as soluble fiber or insoluble fiber. Both types of fiber are essential to a healthy eating lifestyle.