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For years carbohydrates have been subject to a bad rap. Fortunately, by now most of us know that not all carbohydrates are the same, in fact they are one of the key macronutrients that the body needs every day to function properly. The secret? You just need to know what type of carbohydrates to consume. There are whole, unrefined carbohydrates that come from nutritious foods: whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. And then there are the refined carbohydrates, often called processed carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates are the ones to be aware of and eat in limited amounts. And the main reason is because they are foods that contain very few nutrients that the body can use to its advantage, and they are usually highly caloric. Discover the reasons why an excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates is a lousy eating habit that leads to numerous health alterations.
What exactly are refined carbohydrates?
First things first: Refined carbohydrates are carbohydrate foods that have been processed to remove natural fibers, bran, germs, and nutrients from these parts of the grain. Therefore, what is left is the starch and caloric portion of the grain, with a minimal amount of protein. Refined carbohydrates generally fall into two categories: refined grains and added sugars.
– Refined grains: White flour is probably the most widely recognized refined grain, and the reality is that it is found in virtually every type of product – from various bakery and pasta variants to pretzels, donuts, snack bars, and cookies. The opposite of these would be whole grains, which stand out for having three parts: bran, germ and endosperm. While refined grains are processed to remove bran and germs, which removes many nutrients such as iron, B vitamins, and fiber.
– Added sugars: This is the other main category of refined carbohydrates, encompassing all sugars that are not found naturally in a whole food, such as fruit. The most worrying thing is that added sugar is definitely everywhere, it is also important to know that there are many synonyms for this type of sugar: cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, glucose and dextrose. Even brown rice syrup, honey, and maple syrup are considered added sugar. The truth is that added sugar is a very recurring ingredient in products such as salad dressings, sauces, yogurts and cereals, so in many cases it is difficult to have strict control over its intake. Therefore, it is essential to give ourselves the task of reading the nutritional labels of the products we purchase, in addition to betting on following a diet as natural as possible.
Why are refined carbohydrates bad for your health?
While it is undeniable to say that most refined carbohydrates are delicious, unfortunately these types of carbohydrates are not the best option in terms of nutrition or health. Refined carbohydrates lack essential nutrients, such as B vitamins, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, and selenium, all of which are found in the bran and germ [que se eliminan cuando se procesan]. In addition, there is another aspect that is very important to mention: lack of fiber. Which is related to alterations in the level of sugar in the blood and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, chronic inflammation and heart disease.
Because refined carbohydrates lack real nutrition, they are not very filling or satisfying, and the body digests them quickly. This can often lead to the need to eat more and often leads to greater cravings, alterations in the diet and with it the possibilities of weight gain are increased.
How much is good to consume?
Of course, it is always best to choose the complex carbohydrate versions, which are found in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and seeds. Nevertheless, it is not necessary to completely eliminate the foods we enjoy the most in lifeas long as we practice caution and moderation. Especially when it comes to white bread products, white rice, pasta, soft drinks / juices, packaged snacks, and other refined carbohydrates.
Ideally, refined carbohydrates should be eaten in moderation: up to two to three servings per week for the average person. In the cases of people suffering from poor regulation of blood sugar or diabetes, it may be recommended to consume refined carbohydrates less frequently.
Some valuable advice from nutrition experts, to avoid feeling like we are losing the goodness of carbohydrates is be sure to prioritize whole grains over refined grains. The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest eating half of our daily grains in whole grains. This means that for women (ages 30-60) the total daily grain goal is 5 to 7 ounces per day, and for men, 7 to 10 ounces per day. Thus, only half of these should be refined carbohydrates.
For more context: 1 ounce equals one slice of bread, one cup of cereal, or half a cup of cooked rice or pasta.
In addition, it is important to be especially careful with added sugars. According to the American Heart AssociationIt is recommended to limit daily added sugar to 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) for men.
The truth is refined carbohydrates sometimes have their advantagesas they provide quick power in a pinch. Rapid digestion energy before a workout is important to prevent cramps that can come from eating fiber just before a workout, which is why in these cases the consumption of fresh fruit juice or white bread is recommended for these circumstances. Also, eating something quick-digesting immediately after a workout can stimulate muscle recovery and buffer protein It is consumed to help maximize its muscle-building effect.
So now you know, the secret is always in the balanceor. In addition, it will always be important to avoid the consumption of added sugars and on the occasions that you consume refined carbohydrates, it is best to find those enriched with added vitamins and minerals. Although the reality is that it will always be better to choose the consumption of whole grains and avoid the accused at all costs.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.