Nutrition 101: Carbs

Mass Appeal

CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal)  What are the building blocks of a good diet?  Dr. Laura Christoph, Professor of Nutrition showed us how carbs works in our diets.Carbohydrates: they get a bad rap in the media, but carbs are actually quite important for health! 

What are they? Carbohydrates are an essential macro-nutrient. They include subcategories of simple sugars, starch, soluble and insoluble fiber and glycogen. We get all burgle oven from food, which is our human storage form of carbs in the muscles and liver.

Why are they important? Digestible Carbs like starch and sugar help us fuel high intensity activity, and fiber is important for regulating the digestive system, keeping appetite at bay, maintaining colon Health, and lowering blood cholesterol levels.

How much do we need? Current recommendations say carbs should make up 45-65 percent of the calories in a healthy individual’s diet. However, there is done research suggesting people can function well on a higher proportion of fat and protein and lower amount of carbs, especially when dealing with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Make sure to work one on one with a health care professional when experimenting with carb intake, and always make sure you get at least 25 grams of fiber per day for females and 38g for males for cholesterol control and digestive health.Where do you find them?

  • Natural sugar: fruit and veggies
  • Added sugar: processed foods like soda, sugary drinks, commercial sauces and dressings. Beware for ingredients on the label that end in OSE!
  • Starch: grains, beans, starchy veggies like potatoes and carrots
  • Fiber: fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds

Sample meals: you want to make sure that you have complex carbs in your meals, which means that the natural sugars and starch you eat also contain fiber!

  • For breakfast, try making your pancakes with  oats ground in to flour rather than white flour
  • For lunch, rather than a sandwich on a bulky roll, get your carbs from a salad full of veggies, topped with protein packed beans and quinoa and a side of fruit
  • For dinner, try a fiber rich sweet potato to accompany your salmon and veggies rather than white rice or pasta.
  • For dessert, try some fresh berries and walnuts over Greek yogurt rather than sugar sweetened ice cream.

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