What are carbohydrates?

Good carbs versus bad carbs.

Follow the MyPlate method to get a wide variety of nutrients in your daily meal plan.

Follow the MyPlate method to get a wide variety of nutrients in your daily meal plan.

When trying to reduce risk of diabetes or control weight many people say they are going to “cut out all sugar” or “not eat any carbohydrates.” Never eating carbohydrates is not only impossible; it is also not healthy because our bodies need carbohydrates to function.

Carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source. The functioning of the brain, central nervous system and red blood cells all depend on adequate consumption of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the body, which is the body’s first go-to fuel source.

Carbohydrates are found in a variety of different foods such as, milk, bread, rice, corn, beans, cake, popcorn, potatoes, yogurt and many others.

Consuming enough carbohydrate is important; however, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Some types of carbohydrates are a healthier choice than others.

Michigan State University Extension recommends minimally processed carbohydrates, which are the healthiest choices. These sources of carbohydrates are also high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. This includes foods such as:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans

Highly processed carbohydrates are the least healthy choice. These include foods such as:

  • White bread
  • Soda
  • Pastries
  • White rice

During the processing of carbohydrates fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients are removed, which is why these foods are not as healthy.

Instead of eliminating carbohydrates from your diet, include healthy, minimally-processed carbohydrates. Follow the MyPlate method to get a wide variety of nutrients. For recipes for dishes made with healthy carbohydrates visit eatright.org.

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