Saturday, May 26, 2012

Getting the nutrients you need: Carbohydrates
The bulk of your calories — a little more than half, or 55 to 60 percent — should come from foods high in carbohydrates. You may have heard about the two types of carbs — good carbs and bad carbs. The following bulleted list explains each more in-depth and tells you why most of your carbohydrate calories should come from good carbs.

Simple carbohydrates: Foods high in “bad” or simple carbohydrates are candies, cookies, chips, cakes, pies, sodas, and many of your other favorite foods that supply plenty of calories from sugar and refined flours, but not much in the way of good nutrition.

Simple carbohydrates are just that: simple. They’re not as complicated, chemically speaking, as complex carbohydrates. Foods high in simple carbohydrates, for the most part, supply mostly calories and little or none of the good stuff. That’s why dietitians refer to these foods as “empty calorie” foods.

Complex carbohydrates: Foods high in “good” complex carbohydrates include whole grains, beans, and vegetables.

Foods high in complex carbohydrates are better for you because they contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals (substances found in plant foods that are neither vitamins nor minerals, but are thought to convey health benefits).

Fruit is the exception to the rule. Fruit contains plenty of simple sugars, but it also contains valuable nutrients, including many of the disease-fighting antioxidant vitamins and phytochemicals. Dietitians and other nutrition experts always put fresh fruit in the “good” carb group.

If you’re eating simple carbohydrates such as cookies, pastries, and fried chips in place of healthier foods, or if you’re simply eating so many of these foods in addition to healthier foods that you’re gaining weight, then junk food is a problem for you. Eating these foods is okay, however, if you only eat them some of the time and in small amounts. In Chapter 15, you can find tips and recipes for fitting simple sugars into a healthful low calorie diet.

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