The Confusing Carbohydrate – It’s not as bad as you think
“Carbs (carbohydrates) are one of the leading sources of weight gain,” is a statement that you have probably heard before. But it’s really not that simple.
First, to understand what makes a good carb “good” and a bad carb “bad,” you have to understand what a carb is. Carbs are one of the three macronutrients (along with protein and fat), all of which break down into the body’s primary source of energy known as glucose. After eating carbs, your body either uses the energy immediately, or stores it in your muscles and liver as glycogen for later use. This is important to keep your body moving.
The problem, or weight gain, that comes with carbs is when your “carb storage” becomes over-filled and more are added than energy used from glucose. The excess glucose will most likely be stored as fat.
Carbohydrates can be broken down into “whole” and “processed or refined.” Whole carbs are how nature intended. They are the natural sugars that can be found in fruit, vegetables, potatoes, and legumes. Processed carbs are found in foods like white bread, white pasta and rice, cookies, soda, and candy.
Processed carbs have been shown to cause major spikes in blood sugar level leading to a sugar “crash” which can cause hunger and cravings for more processed carb-foods. (www.healthline.com). Whole carbs do not cause that blood sugar spike-and-drop effect therefore do not cause the cravings for unhealthy foods. Additionally, whole carbs still contain the nutrients and fiber that were stripped from the processed carbs making them healthier for you.
Simply put, calorie count is not a good indicator of nutritional value when it comes to carbohydrates. You need carbs for energy but you have to be sure you are using up that energy through exercise or an active lifestyle. These carbs should come from whole carb sources such as fruits, veggies, legumes, and potatoes. Try to avoid processed carbs from things like white bread, pasta, and sweets with added sugar. These are “empty carbs” and have little nutritional value.
For more information on whole vs. processed carbs, visit:
Recipe of the Month
By switching out the flour tortillas which are typically used in quesadillas to whole-wheat tortillas, you make a healthier meal. Both flour and whole-wheat are carbohydrates, however, flour tortillas uses processed flour which strips them of virtually all of their nutritional value. The grains in a whole-wheat tortilla are not processed and can provide your healthy things like fiber, B-vitamins, antioxidants, iron, and vitamin E.
- 4-ounce can diced green chili peppers, drained
- Half a small onion, diced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 8 10-inch fat-free whole-wheat tortillas
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
In a bowl, combine peppers, onion and cumin. Sprinkle each tortilla with cheese, using 1/4 cup cheese on each. Divide pepper mixture among tortillas, spreading it over cheese. Fold each tortilla in half and put in greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
Cover pan with foil. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cheese melts. Remove foil. Cut each tortilla into 4 pieces. Serve with your favorite salsa for dipping.
Makes 8 servings