Learn more about why you should choose good whole grain and fibrous carbohydrates that build your health, instead of the processed, polished variety.

Carbohydrates are probably the most talked about of all food groups, and easily the most maligned. No doubt that certain carbs can inflate your girth, and that low carbohydrate diets can help you achieve weight loss. But that doesn’t mean that carbs are unhealthy, or that we must give up on this food group entirely!

So why not choose a healthier path, and opt for healthier carbohydrates that contribute to your health, if eaten right? Eating a certain amount of carbohydrates is good for you, as long as you eat the right amount, of the right kind.

Guidelines for choosing the right carbohydrates

#1 Go for the fibrous variety

One of the best reasons to eat carbohydrates, is that they are a great source of energy. In addition, studies show that whole grains and dietary fibre reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease too. So, opt for good carbohydrates, that come from foods still in their natural or unprocessed state.

These are generally high in fibre. Hence, they take longer to digest, providing you energy over a longer period of time, and lowering cholesterol levels too. Whole grains, beans, vegetables, nuts, legumes and fruit are examples of good carbs.

#2 Limit intake of processed carbs

Processed foods are bad carbohydrates, since they are nutrient poor and usually contain too much sugar or salt. So, they raise your blood sugar and prompt your body to excrete more insulin. Consequently, your appetite and cravings surge. Sadly, the energy derived from these foods is also short lived.

#3 Choose whole grains and unrefined cereals

If you are trying to lose weight, avoid packaged cereals and potatoes, as they cause a rapid spike in blood sugar. Instead, choose whole-grain, unrefined cereals instead of the white, polished kind. In general, follow this rule for all foods in this category.

Always choose whole grains, instead of processed grains. The former group has fibre, which is good for you. For example, brown rice when polished to become white, loses its husk.

So, if you want to minimize the blood sugar rush that comes from eating complex starchy foods, stick to consuming unrefined grains, in which the fibre is still intact.

Eat a mixture of simple, complex and fibrous carbs

Experts recommend that the total starchy carbohydrate intake should fall between 100-280 grams a day for a person on a 1,600-2, 000 calorie diet. To attain this, go for a combination of simple and complex carbs.

Simple starchy carbohydrates have a structure that consists of one sugar molecule (monosaccharides) or two sugar molecules (disaccharides).

Healthy eating options in this carbohydrate group include cottage cheese, unsweetened and low-fat milk and yogurt, berries, apples, cherries, grapefruits and pears.

Complex starchy carbohydrates comprise of sugars with longer chains, that also known as oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. Whole grains such as wholewheat, buckwheat, semolina, oats are also complex carbohydrates, and should be eaten in rationed amounts.

Within this group, you have the fibrous carbohydrates found in vegetables. Aside from providing satiety, these are an excellent source of antioxidants, micro-nutrients, vitamins and minerals too. Some high fibre foods include eggplant, beans, peas, nut and nut butters, whole grain, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.