Are Carbohydrates really that bad?

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Carbohydrates often get a bad rap, especially when it comes to weight gain.  Many people believe that cutting out carbohydrates from their diets can help them lose weight, and improve health.  Cutting out carbohydrates can rob you of vitamins and minerals that are needed for survival.  Carbohydrates are the bodies main source of fuel.  They are needed for the central nervous system, the kidneys, brain, muscles which includes the most important one, your heart, to function properly.

Carbohydrate make up one of the three macronutrients that are essential to our diet. Carbohydrates provide calories that are needed to produce energy and help keep everything going. When you eat carbohydrates your body breaks them down into glucose. This glucose is then transported to the cells that require energy via your bloodstream.

The energy is used for body functions such as digestion, breathing and movement. See, Carbohydrates aren't all that bad.Carbohydrates are classified according to their chemical structures and how quickly the sugar is digested and absorbed. There are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates have one single or two double sugars and complex carbohydrates have three or more sugars. Simple carbohydrates are refined sugars that have very little nutritional value to the body, and therefore, it's advisable that their consumption be limited to small quantities. Food sources are muffins, cakes, baked goods, white bread, sugar, fruit juice and pre packaged cereals.

Complex carbohydrates have a higher nutritional value than simple carbohydrates.

Examples of food sources are: - Legumes - Rice - Kumara - Sweet Potato - Broccoli - Spinach - Kidney Beans - Chickpeas - Nuts and Seeds - Cooked Oatmeal - Wholegrain Pasta

Complex carbohydrates should make up around half of the calories in your diet.  Try to eat whole grain and whole wheat products as they contain more fibre. Fibre has many health benefits and it's important to help slow down absorption of the carbohydrates, which leave you feeling fuller for longer and you will be less likely to over-eat.

Carbohydrates are rich in Phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are protective chemicals that can be found in many plants. Different phytonutrients have different characteristics. Some act as antioxidants which protect your body from free radicals whilst others help protect your body from bacteria and disease.

Eating too many carbohydrates may lead to an increase in total calories, causing weight gain. Not eating enough carbohydrates can cause a lack of calories, this may cause an excessive intake of fats to make up the calories

Eating the right type and the right amount of complex carbohydrates and they will improve health and well-being.  So don't be afraid, get more complex carbohydrates into your diet and help fuel your brain.

Libby Matthews x