Carbohydrates Guide

Do you know your Carbs?

Carbohydrates (when digested) convert to sugar causing a rise in blood glucose, the rate at which depends on the type of carbohydrate eaten. New research is revealing that ‘sugar’ is the real culprit for many diseases (not saturated fats as we may have been led to believe!). Since many diseases including diabetes, obesity and heart disease are related to insulin intolerance – how much do you know about the carbohydrates on your plate?

So what does insulin do?

As glucose enters the bloodstream, the pancreas releases the hormone insulin which transports glucose to cells to provide fuel for energy. Insulin then removes surplus glucose from the bloodstream storing it in the liver and muscles (but when full glucose is stored as body fat). The more glucose entering the bloodstream e.g. from diets high in carbohydrates, the more prolonged the release of insulin, in some cases, to the point of ‘overload’! As the extra insulin is stored as fat, so this starts the inflammatory process that may lead to diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Carbohydrate Types

Food making up the word carbs

Simple carbohydrates: Usually include refined or processed grains e.g. white bread, white pasta, white rice, white noodles, chocolate, alcohol, table sugar, biscuits, cookies and crisps. In this form, they cause a more rapid increase in blood glucose.

Complex Carbohydrates: Include foods such as whole grain varieties of bread and pasta, brown rice, quinoa, oats. Some starchy vegetables e.g. potatoes (in particular white) and root vegetables are also quick to elevate blood glucose levels so aim to reduce your potion size and intake to 2-3 times per week.

Aim for the inclusion of above ground vegetables (40-50% of dinner plate) including a selection of colours and types for intake of vitamins and minerals.

Fruit: Some fruits (bananas, mangos, grapes, melons) may convert more rapidly to glucose causing a more rapid increase in blood sugar levels. There’s no need to eliminate them entirely but aim for no more than two pieces of fruit daily. More appropriate fruits include berries, apples (non-sweet varieties), pears and lemons. TIP: When accompanied with a handful of nuts (such as almonds or brazil nuts which contain protein and fat) this may lessen the impact of sugar from fruit – a tasty snack too!!



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April 2024

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