Carbs (a.k.a. carbohydrates) often get a bad rap in the nutrition world. But the idea that carbs are universally "bad" is a gross oversimplification.
Carbohydrates are macronutrients found in plant-based foods. In general, they are broken down into glucose once consumed. The glucose is then used by cells to generate energy. And our bodies use this energy to move, grow, repair cells, digest food, circulate blood, etc. Essentially, all biological processes require energy.
Thus, carbohydrates provide a source of fuel. However, not all carbs are created equal.
Carbs can be broken down into two main categories: refined and unrefined.
The main sources of refined carbohydrates include white flour products (i.e., bread, pasta, cereals) and sweeteners.
One of the biggest problems with these foods is the refining process, which strips "whole" foods (i.e., wheat berries and sugar cane) of most of their nutrients.
Thus, these "simple" carbs are metabolized into glucose quickly because there is no fiber or protein to slow down their absorption into the bloodstream. As a result, this leads to spikes in blood sugar and insulin.
Refined carbohydrates are the main ingredient in processed foods. In fact, it is estimated that up to 74% of all packaged foods contain added sweeteners. And, an excess of refined carbohydrates has been associated with many serious health conditions including type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
Thus, we think it's safe to say that refined carbohydrates are "bad" and their consumption should be limited.
On the other hand, unrefined carbs are digested more slowly because they still contain fiber and protein. In addition, they naturally contain health-promoting vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
Thus, unrefined carbohydrates are a healthy component of a well-balanced diet. They help to sustain energy levels and prevent blood sugar and insulin spikes.
The best sources of these "good" carbs include:
- Whole grains (i.e., quinoa, brown rice, millet)
- Bean and lentils
And we can't neglect to mention the benefit from the fiber these carbs contain. This natural source of fiber found only in these plant-based foods helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, supports bowel health and detoxification, and feeds the good bacteria in your gut among other things.
To Sum it Up...
In general, refined carbohydrates found in processed foods do more harm than good. And because of their lack of nutrients, they're also easy to overeat.
On the other hand, unrefined carbohydrates are packed with nutrients and offer many health benefits. And this is why you're sure to find a healthy dose of "good" carbs in all our Pure Plates meals.