All about carbohydrates

Don't go against the grain - embrace this misunderstood food group

By Donna Fleming
It’s undoubtedly true that some carbohydrates, such as doughnuts and cake, aren’t good – especially if we overdo it. But not all carbs are created equal.
Plenty are very good for us and should be part of our daily intake. Not only do they provide energy and vital nutrients, but they can also help reduce our risk of developing serious diseases and assist in keeping weight under control.
Here are some good carbs to get your diet on the right track.
These really are a superfood. They can improve cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease. And, because they’re rich in fibre, they help you feel fuller for longer – so you’re less likely to snack on unhealthy foods. Having a bowl for breakfast gets the day off to a good start, and you can also use them as ingredients in other foods, such as cookies or homemade bread.
Kumara is a great source of energy, but very low in fat and high in fibre. It contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals and provides plenty of antioxidants. It also contains substances that can stop blood from clotting.
Kumara can be used in place of potatoes, and as well as being delicious roasted, it is also good boiled, cooled and used in salads.Add ingredients like baby spinach, crumbled feta, red onion, coriander and pine nuts, and dress with a combination of balsamic vinegar, lime juice and honey.
They’re high in antioxidants and vitamins, such as vitamin C, and recent studies also show they can play a part in preserving brain function. Berries are particularly useful to include in your diet if you have a sweet tooth and struggle when cutting out sugar. Keep frozen berries in the freezer to add to porridge or smoothies, or have fresh ones on hand as snacks.
Wholegrain pasta
For many people, the hardest food to leave out of their diet when cutting back on carbs is pasta. But while the refined white stuff can raise blood- sugar levels, wholegrain pasta will keep things on a more even keel, while supplying you with fibre, B vitamins and iron. By the time you cover it in a sauce, you may not even notice it’s wholegrain. Choose tomato sauces ahead of creamy ones.
Brown rice
White rice is stripped of valuable nutrients during processing, but brown rice still contains these goodies, which not only have health benefits, but make us feel full. Brown rice is delicious stir-fried with garlic, ginger and lots of vegetables,
or used in a casserole with chicken, tomatoes, onions, roasted red peppers and garlic.
Popcorn provides a nutritious alternative to processed snacks, such as potato chips. It’s considered a wholegrain, and popping one heaped tablespoon of kernels will give you three grams of fibre. It also contains polyphenols, which are thought to improve heart health and reduce cancer risk. Make sure it is air popped and don’t slather it in butter and salt.

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