There are two types of carbohydrates:
1. Simple carbohydrates - These are found in fruits and fruit juices and are easily digested by the body. They are also found in processed foods and anything with added refined sugar, such as candy, cookies, cakes and soft drinks.
2. Complex carbohydrates - These are found in almost all plant foods and usually take longer for the body to digest. They are most commonly found in whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice and starchy vegetables like corn and peas.
Carbohydrates provide the body's cells with the energy they need for everyday tasks and physical activity. If the foods you eat contain too many carbohydrates, they are stored in the liver and muscle cells, and used when the body needs an extra burst of energy. Anything leftover that is not stored in the liver and muscle is turned into fat.
If you don't eat enough carbohydrates you can become fatigued, experience muscle cramps or have poor mental function.
A low-carbohydrate diet might seem healthy, but if taken to extreme, it can be dangerous to a person's overall well being. It is important to remember that "low carb" does not mean "no carb" in regards to your daily intake.
Make sure to eat moderate amounts of carbohydrates to keep your body fueled properly. About 50-55 percent of your calories should come from carbohydrates, mainly from fruit and complex carbs.
For your best options choose the following carbohydrates:
- Fruit- Raw or canned in its own juice
- Whole Grains - whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain cereals
- Other starchy foods containing a minimum of three grams fiber per 100 calories
- Milk or yogurt - choose low or non-fat
- Beans or legumes
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas and corn
- Refined sugars found in, candy, desserts and cookies
- Sugary sodas and juices
- Baked goods/breads made with white flour
The following are proper serving sizes:
- One medium piece of fruit
- One cup of berries or melon
- 1/2 cup canned fruit
- 1/4 of an avocado
- 3/4 cup fruit or 100% vegetable juice
- 1/4 cup dried fruit
- 1 cup raw leafy vegetables
- 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
- One slice of whole grain bread
- 1/3 cup brown rice
- 2 oz. oatmeal
- 1/2 cup bulgur or millet
- One small tortilla, corn
- 1/4 cup wheat germ
- 1 oz pretzels