Eating complex carbs may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Choose the Right Carbs to Fuel Metabolism and Mind
Carbohydrates are essential for fueling the body and mind with energy—but it is true that some are healthier for you than others. Processed carbs high in sugar and low in fiber can worsen glucose levels and are often to blame for weight gain and other unwanted health problems. Preliminary research published in journals such as the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that foods containing complex carbs such as barley may actually improve health by lowering blood sugar (glucose) levels. This in turn may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Here are some tips for healthy eating:
- Choose healthy carbohydrates. Include a variety of healthy carbohydrates in your daily diet including whole grains, beans, fruits and veggies, and avoid highly processed foods.
- Choose whole rather than refined grains. Whole grains such as barley, brown rice, and whole wheat bread have more nutrients, protein, and fiber than refined grains such as white rice or white bread.
- Limit sugar. Avoid high sugar foods that offer few nutrients. Also limit sweets, processed foods, soft drinks, and other high sugar beverages.
- Choose fruit or veggies for snacks. It may be hard to change habits at first but sticking with it can pay off. Choose fruit or veggies for snacks instead of processed snacks which usually contain high amounts of sugar, fat and/or salt.
- See a doctor. If you already have diabetes or other chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, check with your doctor about a diet that is right for you.
(Am J Clin Nutr 2010;91:90–7)
Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, websites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.
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