Refined sugars are stripped of nutrients, are quickly converted to glucose in your body and thus cause a quick spike in blood sugar and then often lead to crashes. Simple carbohydrates are most usually found in refined and processed foods, including white breads, bagels, donuts, muffins, white rice, pasta, ice cream, cookies, chips, sugary beverages and candy.
. Complex carbohydrates are
digested more slowly, causing a lower and gentler change in blood sugar.
- Legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas)
- Whole grain foods
- Bran Cereals
Health benefits of complex carbohydrates
There are numerous health-related reasons why you should increase your complex carbohydrates, while decreasing the amount of simple sugars in your diet:
- Weight management. Foods that are high in complex carbohydrates are often lower in calories. Calorie for calorie, complex carbohydrates are more satisfying and the calories add up more slowly when compared to simple carbohydrates.
- Fiber. Most Americans don’t get the recommended amount of fiber per day: 25-35grams. They also provide bulk in the stomach, making you feel fuller longer. A good serving of whole grains will have 3 grams of fiber or more per serving. Only choose breads, pastas, cereals and grains that meet this requirement.
- Nutrients. These foods contain vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other nutrients that are rarely present in simple-sugar food items.
Here are some ideas for incorporating more whole grains into your diet:
- Cold Cereal – Kashi Go Lean, All-bran, Fiber one, Total, Shredded Wheat, Kashi Heart to Heart, Cascadian Farms Wheat Crunch, Barbara's Puffins
- Hot Cereal -- Oatmeal (traditional and steel oats)
- English Muffin -- Thomas Hearty Grain 100% Whole Wheat
- Waffles -- Frozen Kashi Go Lean, Vans 7-Grain (or blueberry), Flax Plus Frozen Waffles
- Whole Grain Bread --Stone ground 100% whole wheat, Pepperidge Farm 100% whole wheat, Arnold Natural 100% whole wheat and Arnold Stone-ground Multigrain
- Whole Wheat Tortillas
- Whole Wheat Pita Bread -- Sahara-Thomas
- Brown and Wild Rice
- Whole Wheat Pasta
- Whole Wheat Couscous
- Whole Grain Crackers – Wasa, Finn Crisp, Scandinavian Bran Crisps, FiberRich crackers, Ryvelta
- Light Popcorn
How can you tell if a product is really whole grain?
Phrases like "stoned wheat," "cracked wheat," and "wheat flour" don't guarantee the presence of any whole grain. Additionally, terms such as "seven grain" or "multi-grain" doesn’t necessarily mean the product is 100% whole wheat--in fact, the product may contain multiple refined grains versus whole grain.
That means you must read food labels carefully. True whole-grain products list as the main ingredient whole wheat, whole oats, whole rye. If the label says "made with wheat flour" or “enriched flour” it may be an intact grain product or it may just be an advertising gimmick, since even highly processed cake flour is made with wheat flour.
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