Taste of Health Francesca Ballicu | 5 years ago

Holiday Health: Know the Difference Between Good & Bad Carbs

Stay healthy this holiday season! Knowing which carbs to eat can help you avoid winter weight gain.

The holidays are here, and you know what that means: carbs, carbs, and more carbs! But not all carbs were created equal. Knowing the difference between good and bad carbs is essential for preventing holiday weight gain and keeping you energized through every party, pageant and parade. “The difference lies in how your body processes simple carbohydrates versus complex carbohydrates,” says Monica Gallant, a dietitian at Carolinas HealthCare System Pineville. “Simple carbohydrates are made up of refined sugars that are quickly converted to glucose in your body, which can lead to weight gain since excess sugar is stored as fat. Complex carbs contain fiber, which digests slowly and keeps you feeling full longer.”


Refined GrainsRefined Grains - White bread, regular pizza crust, white pasta, dinner rolls and hamburger buns are all examples of refined grains. During the refining process, these grains are stripped of B-vitamins, fiber and certain minerals. In addition, they also have a high glycemic index, negatively affecting blood sugar levels.       Pastries Pastries - These include muffins, pies, cakes, pancakes, cookies, high-fructose corn syrup and other baked goods. Pastries are very low in nutrient density as they have little or no nutritional value and supply a lot of calories.         Sugar-sweetened Juice Sugar-Sweetened Juices - Orange juice, cranberry juice, tropical fruit juice and grape juice are chock-full of sugar – more than the average donut! One glass of sweetened juice causes blood sugar to spike, which increases the risk of diabetes and other diseases.        


Whole GrainsWhole Grains - Brown rice, whole-grain pasta, beans, whole wheat bread, whole oats, buckwheat, millet, whole rye, whole-grain barley and whole-grain corn are considered good carbohydrates. These foods are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Whole grains also have a low glycemic index to help stabilize blood sugar, aid in weight loss and control Type 2 diabetes.       Fruits and Vegetables Fruits and Vegetables - Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and essential nutrients. These fiber-filled carbohydrates keep you energized and improve the body’s function at a cellular level. Try and eat 2 cups of whole fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables daily as part of a healthy diet.       LegumesLegumes - Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils are high in protein and low in fat. These fiber-filled carbohydrates may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, colon and prostate cancer. You should aim to get about 3 cups of legumes a week if you’re on a 2,000-calorie diet.      

Choose This, Not That: Holiday Edition

Appetizer Choose Hummus instead of Cheese Ball and Crackers When you’re waiting for the main meal, be smart about snacks. Hummus is light and nutrient dense. Spread it onto fresh-cut veggies for an even healthier option. Sides Choose Oven-Roasted Potatoes instead of Mashed Potatoes Skip the butter and cream – oven-roasted potatoes make for an incredibly satisfying side, minus the boatload of calories. Olive oil and a sprinkle of rosemary adds a dash of heart-healthy flavor. Choose Fresh Green Beans instead of Green Bean Casserole There’s no need to drown your veggies in cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions. Simply season fresh green beans with lemon, olive oil and a little salt for a light version of this holiday classic. Main Dish Choose Roast Turkey or Chicken instead of Prime Rib or Ham Think lean! Choosing lean white meats over red meats is nutritionally smarter. Another tip is to take into account the cuts of poultry you choose to eat: Ounce for ounce, the amount of fat from least to most is chicken breast, drumstick, wing, then thigh. Dessert Choose Cranberry-Apple Pie instead of Pecan Pie While some of the fat in pecan pie is healthy fat from the nuts, most of the calories come from the sickly-sweet filling made from corn syrup and sugar. Cranberry-apple pie, on the other hand, (while sweet) is packed with whole fruit nutrients. Do you wish you had a community to inspire you and support the choices you make to improve your family’s nutrition habits? Now you do. Join the conversation, or start your own, using #TasteOfHealth