What are Healthy Carbs?

Eating a better diet is on almost everyone’s mind, and especially at this time of year when we are emerging from holiday over-indulgence.  Many are quick to point to carbs as the culprit that keeps us from losing those five pounds we’ve always been wishing we could.  But are there healthy carbs?

The more recent Keto diet trend emphasizes proteins over carbs, and many of the long-standing diets such as Atkins, NutriSystems, and Weight Watchers certainly emphasize lean proteins and veggies over carbs, but does that mean that carbs are bad for you?  Would no carbs be best?

The answer to that last question is clearly no.  Carbs, and more importantly, many foods that contain carbs, are important parts of a healthy diet.  So rather than trying to eliminate carbs, focus on getting the right carbs.   Put simply, the most important point is this:

Not all carbs are equal.  There are healthy carbs.

As the Harvard University school of Public Health says “ The amount of carbohydrate in the diet – high or low – is less important than the type of carbohydrate in the diet.”

The real distinction is not between carbs and no-carbs, but rather simple carbs vs complex carbs.

Simple carbs (or unhealthy carbs) are found in processed foods such as white bread, white pasta, french fries, sugar and soda.  These foods can contribute to weight gain, and may lead to an increased chance of diabetes and heart disease.

Complex carbs (or healthy carbs) are found in whole foods such as beans, whole grains, fruits and quinoa.   These carbs are used differently by your body than simple carbs.

Carbs are an important energy source for your body and brain, and the foods that contain healthy carbs, such as whole grains and beans also contain fiber and important micro-nutrients that are hard to replace.

For that reason, here at The Dinner Daily, you will find foods that contain complex carbs in our Reduced Carb meals, because we follow the guidance of our Registered Dietitians and include those foods that are important to a healthy diet.  You won’t find many ingredients that contain simple carbs in our Reduced Carb meal plans.

So how to get started eating a healthier diet including healthy carbs?  Here are a few quick tips.

  • Choose whole grain breads and cereals over processed ones (Look for cereals and breads that have a whole grain listed first in the ingredient list)
  • Seek out beans and whole veggies on your plate rather than processed foods, which are likely to include added sugars.
  • Choose brown rice and quinoa over white rice, or a bed of lettuce when you get that burrito bowl

Or try out our meal planning service for two free weeks and select our Reduced Carb meal option. That will provide a week to week menu for you that includes complex carbs, and is also a nutritionally balanced meal plan.  Most importantly, don’t feel guilty at choosing foods with complex carbs.  The right carbs are good for you and should be a part of your regular diet.

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