Most people think carbohydrates are the wicked stepmother in our body’s fairy tale, poisoning and ruining it. Accepted, the metaphor might be a bit exaggerated, but it is a fact that the unaware eye views carbs negatively.
Carbs have not always been viewed upon as bad for the body. And, to be honest, they aren’t. What we need to understand is how different types of carbs affect the body differently.
They can be broadly classified into two groups: simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs are contained in processed foods like white flour and white sugar and in a wide variety of products that are made using them. Such carbs are bad for the body, and although we know we should avoid them, we are attracted to them like bees to nectar. Naans, roomali rotis, biscuits, cakes, mithais, chocolates and soft drinks are just a few of the sources of simple carbs.
Complex carbs are found in veggies, fruits, dry fruits and whole grains like rice and millets. They are healthy and help in stabilizing blood sugar levels and regulating hunger, lowering weight and cholesterol levels.
Comparing to these, simple carbs make the liver and pancreas work overtime as they cause a sudden rise in blood sugar levels. And just after this sharp spike, the blood sugar levels fall dramatically. The body then craves food and the individual becomes tired, restless and irritable.
Simple carbs can also cause weight gain, chronic disorders and diseases like heart disease, gall stones, kidney stones, arthritis as well as cancer. But the fact is that your daily diet must contain at least 60 per cent of carbs. Out of this, 40 per cent of carbs should come from veggies and fruits alone. You need these for energy and with all the antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that they provide; this is the best deal you can get.
Sources of good carbs, whether simple or complex are:
- All fruits and vegetables: They are healthy complex carbs, full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and not high in calories, making them suitable for weight loss.
- Grains: They offer both healthy complex carbs and fibre, ideal for weight-loss. Due to the low-calorie and high-fibre content, it satiates hunger for a longer duration.
- Yams: A good source of potassium, the mineral which helps control blood pressure. As it is rich in fibre it also slows the rate of absorption of sugar in the bloodstream.
- Sweet potato/potato: It contains Vitamin C, which builds immunity, Vitamin D, which increases energy levels and builds healthy bones, iron and magnesium which keep the heart healthy.
- Corn: This is high in fibre and low in fat. It contains both soluble and insoluble fibre reducing cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of heart disease and preventing constipation.
- Dry fruits: Raisins, apricots, prunes, figs and dates are low in sodium and extremely low in saturated fat and cholesterol. They are a good source of dietary fibre and satisfy sweet cravings.