By: Johanna Burani
Carbohydrates are the body’s fuel ofchoice. Although we ingest calories fromcarbohydrates, proteins and fats, it’s the carbcalories that the body turns into its readilyavailable form of energy, glucose.
Protein and fat calories are digestedand stored for other important uses, likemaking new muscle cells and accumulatingconcentrated energy for potential futureuse. But the fuel that gets us going in themorning and keeps us going all day longcomes from our carbohydrate foods.
Choose the Carbs Our Bodies Know Best
The carbs that work best for us are the onesmost familiar to the human digestive system,dating all the way back to Paleolithic times:unrefined, minimally processed high-fiberwhole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Stone-ground 100 percent whole grainbreads, old fashioned rolled oats, brownrice, pasta and noodles made from durumwheat, yams and sweet potatoes, steamedor raw vegetables, berries, citrus fruits,apples, pears, stone fruits and grapes aresome common examples of these “familiar”carbohydrate foods.
These carbohydrates are low glycemic index(GI) foods that offer the body many of thedaily nutrients it needs (calories, protein,fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients)while providing slowly released glucose intothe bloodstream.
After eating low GI carbs, there is no spikein blood glucose and no subsequentprecipitous drop. The body receives aconsistent flow of energy into the blood,which circulates the energy throughoutthe entire body. When nourished this way,the body experiences a sense of sustainedsatiety and well-being.
Food editor’s note: Don’t neglect gettingregular exercise, which allows the body totolerate more carbohydorates.
Making the switch to low GI carbohydrates? Here are some suggestions:
Read product labels. Seek out products that are made with whole grainsand whole grain flours rather than enriched wheat flour, which has had thebran and much of the fiber and nutrients removed. You can also keep aneye out for unwanted ingredients such as trans fats and chemical additivesand fillers.
Look for breads and rolls whose first ingredient listed is whole wheat orwhole rye flour, rather than enriched wheat flour. Whole wheat pita breadand 100 percent whole wheat English muffins are widely available.
Look for whole grain crackers like Ry Krisp, Ry Vita, and Wasa. Avoidcrackers such as Saltines, Ritz, Melba Toast, Wheat Thins and others madefrom enriched wheat flour.
Choose old fashioned or rolled oats instead of quick, one-minute or instantoats.
Choose minimally processed high-fiber cereals like Kellogg’s Complete Oator Wheat Bran Flakes, All Bran With Extra Fiber, Kashi and Fiber One.
There are a few fruits that naturally contain a fair amount of glucose:bananas, pineapple, watermelon, raisins and cantaloupe. These fruits arebest eaten in small quantities, as part of a fruit salad, for example. Anothergood rule of thumb is to eat the whole fruit rather than drink the juice. Forexample, eat an orange rather than drink a glass of orange juice.
Replace white potatoes with sweet potatoes or yams. And rememberthat potatoes, corn, peas and winter squash are considered starches eventhough they are vegetables.
Avoid puffed, airy, refined starchy snacks like rice cakes, popped corn orpretzels. Better choices are dry-roasted nuts, cooked sugar-free puddings,reduced-fat or no-sugar-added ice cream, fruit smoothies made with freshor frozen fruit, skim milk or light yogurt, whole grain or bran muffins andlow-fat oatmeal cookies.