Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Not all carbs are created equal

Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap from fad diets when in actuality not all carbs are bad for you and some carbs are better for you than others. You may have heard of “complex” or “unrefined” carbs. This refers to whole foods like fruits, vegetables and legumes. These foods can have positive effects on our blood sugar levels, our digestion, mood and energy levels. Whereas “simple” or “refined” carbs like white flour, candy, soda and pastries, when eaten in small or excessive amounts, can have a more detrimental effect on our health. This is because these foods contain minimal fiber, protein and essential vitamins and minerals which moderate the absorption of glucose. Fiber plays an essential role in blood sugar balance and it has a range of health benefits like improved digestion, increased immunity and reduced cholesterol. “Complex” carbs are truly complex because they contain a variety of other nutrients like fiber, protein, healthy fats, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. These carbs are ideal for blood sugar balance and mood and energy stability. Chronic blood sugar imbalances can eventually lead to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Below are snack and meal suggestions that incorporate a balance of complex carbs, proteins and healthy fats to help you sustain blood sugar and optimal energy.

Hummus or black bean dip with raw chopped vegetables or whole grain corn chips
Low-fat organic cottage cheese with fresh fruit
Gluten-free toast or bread with nut butter (cashew, almond, sunflower, peanut)
Fresh fruit with nuts or cheese
Plain yogurt with fresh fruit
Tofu chive spread or roasted garlic tofu spread on GF crackers
Sardines*, smoked salmon*, or sliced deli meat* on corn tortillas with mustard or avocado
Hard-boiled egg and a piece of fruit
Edamame (soybeans)

Whole grain (GF oats, buckwheat, millet) porridges with nuts and/or seeds, milk and fresh berries
Scrambled eggs or deli meat with vegetables on a corn tortilla
Brown rice topped with lemon tahini sauce or peanut sauce, cubed tofu and sautéed vegetables
Bean soups e.g., split pea, black bean, chili, lentil, or navy bean, with vegetables
Baked sweet potato topped with chili, plain yogurt, salsa and broccoli
Brown rice and black bean tacos with avocado, salsa and cilantro
Miso soup with cubes of tofu and chopped vegetables such as: bok choy, kale, carrots, watercress, collards, seaweed, sesame oil and brown rice
Stir-fry of various chopped vegetables such as kale, chard, mushrooms, peas, bell peppers, zucchini and squash with tofu, chicken, shrimp, scallops, or beef and served over brown rice, quinoa
Rice pasta and tomato sauce with tempeh or ground meat, spinach and cannellini beans and a green salad
Baked salmon or meat of choice, quinoa or whole grain of choice and steamed vegetables

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