We really need to put the carbohydrate war to rest once in for all. I am going to show through several indexes which carbs you should eat and the types to avoid. That’s right, I said “should eat.” Carbohydrates have become a huge topic of debate in the nutritional world in regards to how many calories should be derived from them in the makeup of a healthy diet. The USDA is steadfast on their recommendation of a high carbohydrate diet and for years failed to differentiate what is a “good/bad carb” with their 5+ servings of whole grains. With the new introduction of the “Food Plate’’ they are making it more clear on what type of carbohydrates should be eaten with a strong emphasis on vegetable and fruit intake which are essential for a healthy diet. If you have been remotely involved in a conversation about weight loss, in a gym, or read a headline on dieting you have heard how “bad” carbohydrates are. This was ushered into the forefront of everyone’s brains by Dr. Robert Atkins who touted a low carb, high fat, and even higher protein diet as the way to a healthy waist line. Now, we have many people out there who would prefer to sacrifice their first born instead of eating a piece of bread or pasta. In my years of helping people live healthier lives many have commented to me about their efforts to eliminate all carbohydrates from their diet. This is a dangerous, and an unnecessary approach.
Carbs are essential!
Simply put: they are substances that are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. When carbs are ingested by the body, they are converted into immediate energy. (glucose) If your body does not need the energy right away the carbs are converted into a storage form. The storage form is called glycogen and is stored in the muscles or the liver. All carbs are not created equal and some provide more health benefits than others.
It is quite obvious that a carrot is healthier for you than carrot cake and without having any nutritional training knowledge almost anyone would get this one right. The question really is, why is the carrot healthier? When carbs are digested they elicit different responses which range from, their impact on blood sugar, increases in insulin levels, satiety, and even the ability to help with producing healthy bacteria. Without going into all of the technical information about carbs and the processes that take place when they are ingested let’s get into…
Determining which carbs you should be eating.
Scientists have developed several indexes to help us determine which types of carbohydrates we should be consuming on a regular basis.
Glycemic Index (G. Index): This index makes a comparison of 50 grams of a carbohydrate from a particular food and to 50 grams of glucose. Glucose (which is all sugar) scores a 100. This is a measure of how much the ingestion of glucose raises blood glucose levels. All other foods are compared to this response and scored accordingly. The lower glycemic index of the carbohydrate you eat the better health value as far as glucose levels are concerned. Eating a diet that consistently elevated blood glucose is detrimental to health and can ultimately lead to metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Glycemic Load (G. Load): This is a measure of a food’s glycemic index and its portion size. A food that has a G. Load of 10 or lower is considered low.
GL = (GI x the amount of available carbohydrate) divided by 100
Example: If a food has a GI of 48 x 23 available carbs) 100 = G. Load is 11.04 (high glycemic load)
Insulin Score: When you eat a food that raises blood glucose levels, insulin is secreted to return the blood glucose levels back to normal. This Insulin Index measures the amount of insulin that is secreted after the food has been ingested. The interesting fact about this index is that some foods that do not have carbohydrates were shown to produce an insulin response.
Satiety Score:+ This score determines how full you may feel after eating a particular carbohydrate.
|Food||Food Type||G. Index||G. Load||I. Index||S. Score|
|* White Bread||Carb. rich||70||10||100 +/- 0||100|
|* Glucose||Carb. rich||100||50||N/A||N/A|
|Bread Wh. wheat||Carb. rich||67||13||96 +/- 12||157|
|White Pasta||Carb. rich||38||18||40 +/- 5||119|
|Whole Wh. Rye||Carb. rich||58||8||96 +/- 12||157|
|French fries||Carb. rich||75||22||74 +/- 12||116|
|Wh.Wheat pasta||Carb. rich||37||16||40 +/- 5||188|
|Brown rice||Carb. rich||50||16||62 +/- 11||132|
|White rice||Carb. rich||69||30||79 +/- 12||138|
|Apples||Fruit||38||6||59 +/- 4||197|
|Oranges||Fruit||42||5||60 +/- 3||202|
|Bananas||Fruit||51||12||81 +/- 5||118|
|Doughnuts||Bakery||76||17||74 +/- 9||68|
|Croissants||Bakery||67||17||79 +/- 14||47|
|Cookies||Bakery||63||13||92 +/- 15||120|
|Jellybeans||Snacks||78||22||160 +/- 16||118|
|Mars Bars||Snacks||65||26||122 +/- 15||70|
|Ice cream||Snacks||61||10||89 +/- 13||88|
|Beef||High Protein||0||0||51 +/- 16||176|
|Cheese||High Protein||0||0||45 +/-13||146|
|Fish||High Protein||0||0||59 +/-18||225|
|Eggs||High Protein||0||0||31 +/-6||150|
- Gibson, GR Robberoid MB. Dietary Modulation of the human colonic microbiota: introducing the concept of prebiotics. J Nutr, 1995;125(6):1401-1412