Carbohydrates or carbs have gotten a bad rap because they have been linked to obesity, food addiction, diabetes, and allergies.
However, not all carbs are bad. There are different kinds. The worst are refined carbohydrates that include table sugar, white rice, pastries and breads made from white flour, biscuits, and cakes.
Refined carbohydrates are bad because they are empty calories, meaning they have little to no dietary benefits and just get stored as fat, leading to weight gain.
Then there are good carbs. Carbohydrates are considered good if they have nutritional benefits, are not chemically processed, and does not cause a sudden rise in blood sugar.
There are diets that completely eliminate carbs or set it at a really small amount. These diets are not recommended. Carbs are the main fuel of the body.
Without them, one can feel irritable, weak, and depressed. Lack or insufficient carbs also result in menstruation delays or lack of it in women.
Instead of going on a low carb diet or eliminating this food group completely, just be wise about it. The following are the best carbs for a healthy diet.
Whole Wheat Bread
If you are a bread person and don’t want to give up sandwiches and toasts just because you want to eat healthy, you must stock up on whole wheat bread.
This has more fiber than refined flour bread and makes you feel full even with less food. There are whole wheat bread buns, pancakes, pita bread, and pizza dough that you can use instead of white bread.
Softer and sweeter when cooked than its white cousin, sweet potatoes can be used in both sweet and savory foods.
This is loaded with vitamin A, fiber, and potassium. You can eat it boiled, as baked fries, or mashed.
Sweet potatoes go well with cinnamon and can also be added to smoothies to make them thicker and creamier.
Chewier and nuttier than white rice, brown rice is a good source of B vitamins and fiber.
This type of rice has a longer cooking time but is a nice side dish to stews, curries, and grilled meat. It can also be added to burritos, salads, soups, and meatballs.
If you are a snacker and you love something guilt free to keep your mouth busy with, air pop some popcorn kernels.
Don’t buy those microwave versions as they are high in saturated fat and sodium. Popcorn is a good carb snack if you make it yourself using a spray canola oil and a nonstick pan.
A big bowl of cooked popcorn with some nutritional yeast added is only about 100 calories.
Chickpeas or garbanzos, which is the known primary ingredient in making hummus, is rich in carbohydrates and can be fried, baked and made into soups.
Another healthy carb is green peas. Aside from essentially being rice in fiber, green peas are also a good source of minerals like copper and phosphorus.
Green peas also have folate and iron, which are both necessary for the circulatory system to function well.
This carb source, when eaten in moderation, is good even for dieters. It has a considerable amount of protein, lots of vitamin A, and has carotenoids.
It can be eaten boiled, grilled, as soup, and as a salad topping. In Asian countries, particularly the Philippines, corn can be added even to desserts.
Pinoys enjoy sweet corn flavored ice cream, mais con yelo ( a concoction with milk, shaved ice, kernel corn cream, and sugar), and maha blanca ( a type of pudding made with starch, coconut milk, sugar, and corn.)
Some cultures find it odd to use corn in sweet food, but use it in savory dishes instead.
Another way to use corn is to buy corn flour and make pancakes, fritters, muffins and corn dogs.
This has three grams of fiber per serving and is a good source of the mineral magnesium.
Another name for wild rice is Indian rice and is not a distant cousin of the white rice often served in Asian countries such as Thailand and Japan.
This is dark colored, has longer looking ‘grains’ and is so much more nutritious. This is a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and zinc.
Wild rice has lots of antioxidants, is gluten free and is relatively low in calories. It can be mixed in salads, steamed, added to soups, and cooked ala risotto.
Although it is a fruit and has some simple sugars, banana is too healthy to dismiss even if you are eating healthy.
This is a filling carb and can be eaten as is, as a smoothie, as a guilt-free ice cream, and as a topping for oatmeal.
Remember to drink lots of water and to eat bananas only in moderation as this fruit causes constipation if taken in excess.