The Place Of Carbohydrates In Healthy Eating And Balanced Diets

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A balanced diet should provide all the essential nutrients, in sufficient quantities and quality, necessary for growth and body maintenance. In order to meet all of the body’s nutritional needs, and a crucial role in healthy eating, foods from all the main food groups should be eaten. An example of such group of foods, carbohydrates, plays an important role in healthy eating and is the principal source of energy in most people’s diets.

Carbohydrates should not be viewed simply as a source of energy. They are also instrumental in the healthy functioning of the bowels, as well as being a good source of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Some people, particularly in the weight loss circles, have denouced carbohydrates as fattening and as foods to avoid. This can’t be further from the truth. In healthy eating the catch-phrase is balance – right proportions and quantities.

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Most of the carbohydrates in a lot of people’s diets comes in the form of starchy foods. These are a good source of energy and fibre, as well as a range of nutrients like the B vitamins, calcium and iron. Not all carbohydrates are equal. Some contain more starch than others and hence more calories. More starch equates to more calories.

In healthy eating, and especially pertaining to weight loss, the glycaemia effects of different carbohydrates is important. The simple carbohydrates, which include glucose, rapidly raise the blood sugar levels and are used almost exclusively as an energy source. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates, which don’t have as much glycaemia effect as simple carbohydrates, serve other important nutritional roles besides meeting energy needs.
Complex carbohydrates are the mainstay of healthy eating and weight loss. This is because the are digested and absorbed slowly from the gastrointestinal tract, and therefore have a lower glycaemia effect than other starchy carbohydrates. This is partly due to their high fiber content. This fiber helps keep the bowels healthy and also makes us feel full, and keeps us full, for longer thereby regulating our eating. Soluble fiber can even help reduce the cholesterol levels in the blood.

Good sources complex fiber-rich carbohydrates include whole grains. Going for wholegrain varieties of starchy foods helps limit the amount of calories eaten without compromising on the nutrients. This is particularly important in weight loss and calorie-restricted diets. Gram for gram, carbohydrates contain fewer calories than fats, and therefore, if there are any foods to reduce the consumption of, let it be fatty foods.

Healthy eating is about balance and quality. Choose well, eat well and live healthily. Adding plenty of fruits and vegetables to your diet can massively boost your health. The good thing about a lot of fruits and vegetables is that they are nutrient rich without excessive amounts of calories as, say, fatty foods. Kick start your healthy eating regime with complex carbohydrates and fruits and vegetables!