Healthy Living Tips

Healthy Living Tip #289

Eat more healthy carbs and whole grains

Choose healthy carbohydrates and fiber sources, especially whole grains, for long-lasting energy. In addition to being delicious and satisfying, whole grains are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, which help to protect against coronary heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. Studies have shown people who eat more whole grains tend to have a healthier heart.

A quick definition of healthy carbs and unhealthy carbs

Healthy carbs (sometimes known as good carbs) include whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy carbs are digested slowly, helping you feel full longer and keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable.

Unhealthy carbs (or bad carbs) are foods such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. Unhealthy carbs digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and energy.

Tips for eating more healthy carbs

  • Include a variety of whole grains in your healthy diet, including whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, and barley. Experiment with different grains to find your favorites.
  • Make sure you’re really getting whole grains. Be aware that the words stone-ground, multi-grain, 100% wheat, or bran can be deceptive. Look for the words “whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” at the beginning of the ingredient list. In the U.S., Canada, and some other countries, check for the Whole Grain Stamps that distinguish between partial whole grain and 100% whole grain.
  • Try mixing grains as a first step to switching to whole grains. If whole grains like brown rice and whole-wheat pasta don’t sound good at first, start by mixing what you normally use with the whole grains. You can gradually increase the whole grain to 100%.
  • Avoid: Refined foods such as breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals that are not whole grain.