Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient that comes in three forms: sugar, starch, and fiber. Carbs are in many of the foods we eat. Sugar is the least healthy kind of carb, a monosaccharide that metabolizes quickly, causing spikes in blood sugar that put stress on the pancreas' hormone production processes. Starch is a polysaccharide in plants, grains, and potatoes. It metabolizes slower, making it a healthier carb. Fiber is mostly undigestible, but it helps the body feel full for a long time and eases constipation. Fiber helps with weight management, reduces cholesterol, and feeds healthy gut bacteria.
Bread is high in carbohydrates, but white bread does not contain much fiber and can cause spikes in blood sugar that stress the pancreas and metabolism. One medium bagel contains 36 grams of carbohydrates, 12 percent of the daily recommended intake, and two slices of white bread contain 26 grams. Whole-wheat bread contains about the same amount of carbohydrates as white bread, but it has more fiber, so opt for whole-grain bread over white bread.
Cereal contains a lot of carbohydrates, as does any product made from wheat, oats, or any other grain. Sugary cereals usually don't contain much fiber and will undoubtedly cause a spike in blood sugar levels followed by a crash. They also do not keep the body full for very long. For example, regular corn flakes contain 24.3 grams of carbohydrates per cup, and 1.8 of those grams are sugars. Frosted flakes, on the other hand, contains 35.4 grams of carbohydrates per cup, 15 of which are sugars. Choose whole-grain cereals that contain fiber and the least amount of sugar.
Regular cooked pasta is 81 percent carbohydrates, 14 percent protein, and 5 percent fats. There are 42.8 grams of carbs in 1 cup of pasta, 2.5 grams of which are fiber; the rest is starch. Whole-wheat pasta has similar nutrients but much more fiber. This means that it metabolizes a bit slower and is better for intestinal health.
One cup of cooked rice has 44.5 grams of carbs. However, there is a major difference between brown rice and white rice in fiber content. One cup of white rice contains 0.6 grams of fiber, or 3 percent of the daily recommended intake (DRI), whereas the same amount of brown rice contains 3.5 grams of fiber or 14 percent of the DRI. Brown rice is also a better source of minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and selenium.
Unless cookies or cakes are baked with healthy ingredients such as high-fiber whole grain flour, they contain many unhealthy carbohydrates. A typical cookie contains about 10 grams of carbs, at least half of which are sugars. An average piece of chocolate cake contains 50 grams of carbohydrates, also made up largely of sugars. Add frosting, and the carb and sugar count continues to rise as nutrition falls.
It is best to avoid sugary drinks. There is nothing beneficial in a can of Coca-Cola, which contains 39 grams of carbohydrates, all of which are sugars. One can or bottle of soda contains more carbohydrates than a bagel, a bowl of cereal, or a serving of pasta. Adding flavors to water is a better way to enjoy a tasty drink that doesn't derail good health.
Baked potatoes contain a lot of carbohydrates, but they're not all bad. A medium baked potato (173 grams) has 36.6 grams of carbohydrates, 3.8 of which are fiber, 30 starch, and 2 sugars. Potatoes also contain plenty of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, niacin, folate, potassium, and manganese. The skin of potatoes contains more iron and fiber than the flesh.
A medium sweet potato (180 grams) contains 37.3 grams of carbohydrates, 5.9 of which are fiber. Sweet potato is an incredibly nutritious vegetable and an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese. It is also high in carotenoids like beta-carotene, which help ward off cancer and other diseases related to free radical damage. Sweet potatoes are sweet, but they won't cause a spike in blood sugar levels because their natural sugars are released slowly into the bloodstream.
One cup of cooked quinoa contains 39.4 grams of carbohydrates, 5.2 of which are fiber, and the rest are starch. Quinoa is an excellent source of protein and is very high in essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. It is naturally gluten-free, so it's a great option for those with celiac disease or people who need to avoid gluten.
Oats are a healthy grain because they contain plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are 70 percent carbs, 15 percent fats, and 15 percent protein. One cup of raw oats contains 103 grams of carbs, 16.5 of which are fiber. One cup of oatmeal made from old-fashioned oats contains 27 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber. Studies show that oats lower "bad" cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Since they contain fiber and protein, they also keep the body full for a long time.
One medium banana contains 27 grams of carbohydrates. Bananas contain some fiber, some starch, and a lot of sugar. The sugars are naturally derived but can be problematic for people with diabetes. It is more important to avoid sugars in processed foods than in natural foods like fruit. Bananas are a source of many essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese.
Buckwheat is not related to wheat and does not contain gluten. It's an incredibly nutritious pseudo-cereal that can be consumed in many forms, including as a flour. One cup of raw buckwheat contains 122 grams of carbohydrates and 17 grams of fiber. It also provides almost 100 percent of the daily recommended intake of manganese, copper, and magnesium and substantial amounts of riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, iron, and selenium.
Jams and preserves contain a lot of processed sugar, which means they are high in monosaccharide carbohydrates. In fact, they are 99 percent carbs and just 1 percent protein. One ounce of jam or preserves contains 19.3 grams of carbohydrates, 13.6 of which are sugars. In other words, it should be consumed in moderation.
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