Healthy Eating: Carbohydrates

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Carbohydrate is found in many foods. It provides energy for our heart, brain and muscles. But not all carbs are equal. Some are better choices than others. And if you have diabetes, controlling carbohydrate is important, because when you eat a lot of carbohydrate your blood sugar may rise too high.

The best carbohydrates provide fiber. They are sometimes called complex carbohydrates. Fiber can help lower your risk for diabetes and heart disease.

So, eat more fruits, vegetables and beans, as well as whole grain products and whole non- processed foods. These are the foods that most of us do not eat enough. Most people should eat 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables each day! Talk with a registered dietitian or your healthcare provider about your fruits and vegetables goal and what is right for you. Achieving this goal will go a long way toward better nutrition.

When picking vegetables, try to pick more non-starchy vegetables. Starchy vegetables are higher in calories than non-starchy vegetables. Starchy vegetables include corn, potatoes, pumpkins, and peas. Eat more fruits and veggies that are brighter colors. These are more nutrient rich. Aim for the rainbow.

The not-so-good carbohydrate, like white flour and white sugar, is usually higher in calories and has little nutritional value. For too many of us, these make up too large a part of what we eat and drink every day. Choosing less white bread and sweets, sodas, and processed foods, is a move in the right direction.

Also, keep in mind just how many times you may add sugar to flavor your food or drink. Getting a sweet tea or sugar in your coffee can add on unexpected calories. Some drinks, such as popular specialty flavored coffees, contain more sugar than some desserts!

Make informed choices when choosing what to drink. Look on the food label for the sugar content. Avoid high sugar items. Choose non-processed foods without added sugars, and avoid adding sugar when cooking or eating other fresh foods. To start, try cutting the amount of sugar and white flour you eat in half to get your taste buds used to the change. You may not notice at all!

Trying a few of these healthier tips can move you further down the path to great eating habits.

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