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These healthy carb sources are definitely friend not foe
Carbs have gotten an unfairly bad wrap in recent years, with many fad diets advising to cut them out. Stop! Don’t fall down the no-carb trap. Eating the right kind of carbohydrates is actually essential for your health and maintaining a svelte or toned physique. The trick is to choose unrefined, nutrient-dense options and be conscious of portion sizes. The more energy you are expending, the greater the quantity of wholefood carbohydrates you will require each day for optimal wellbeing. Ditch the white processed stuff and make friends with carbs by chowing down on these:
Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is a highly nutritious pseudo-grain, which is gluten free and exceptionally high in complete protein, meaning it contains all 8 essential amino acids. Quinoa is also abundant in fibre, iron, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins and vitamin E. Celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder is a huge advocate for this ancient food and it’s blood sugar stabilising properties, which can be beneficial for healthy weight loss. “It’s important to choose complex, unrefined carbohydrates [like quinoa] because they are high in fiber, keeping you fuller longer,” says Snyder. It’s also highly versatile and can be enjoyed in hot dishes, salads and even in sweet breakfast bowls, such as with fruit and coconut milk.
Bananas offer a quick release of natural sugars into the blood stream from a wholefood source, which is highly beneficial when you require fast energy, such as before exercising or as part of a morning meal. Bananas also contain all sorts of good things, such as health-promoting flavonoids, vitamin C, fibre, vitamin b6, magnesium, manganese and just one banana alone contains 467 mg of potassium, which is important for controlling your heart rate and blood pressure.
A 2003 study on bananas, which are rich in vitamin A and carotenoids, showed that they have the potential to protect against chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and types of cancer. As delicious as they are good for you, bananas are great as a portable snack (add a tablespoon or nut butter for a slower energy release), in your smoothies, or sliced on top of just about any breakfast imaginable.
Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A, C, Bs, manganese, biotin, potassium and more. They offer a fantastic lower GI substitute for white potatoes, providing a slow and steady release of energy into the blood stream. Mash them, bake them, boil them – just make sure you’re eating these bad boys because the benefits are just too good to pass up.
Oats are an easy and healthful carbohydrate option that is rich in a specific type of fiber called beta-glucan. This kind of fibre is especially beneficial as it is known to help lower levels of bad cholesterol. Oats have also been shown to assist with healthy weight management, with an Australian study carried out by Nutrition Research in 2009 finding a significant correlation between higher levels of beta glucan from oats and higher levels of Peptide Y-Y, which is a hormone associated with appetite control. “Oats contain minimal amounts of gluten,” says Jessica Sepel, nutritionist and author of The Healthy Life, “so most people who are gluten intolerant can actually often handle oats.”
Buckwheat is another pseudo-grain (like quinoa) because it has grain-like qualities but is actually a nutrient-packed seed. Buckwheat groats contain protein, fiber and antioxidants. Buckwheat may be especially useful for athletes and exercisers as it contains high levels of rutin, a phytonutrient found in buckwheat, which acts as an important antioxidant for cardiovascular health. Clinical studies have shown that it supports the circulatory system and may help protect against high blood pressure and keep cholesterol levels in check. In addition, buckwheat provides an easily digestible source of plant-based protein, with around 14g per 100g. Buckwheat can be eaten in sweet or savoury dishes, such as porridge, bliss balls, healthy desserts, as a rice substitute, in casseroles, baked goods or in salads.