When we are bombarded with health advice from every direction, it can be difficult to decide what is right for our diet and what’s not.
Carbohydrates are a popular topic of debate and one that fluctuates with food trends (hello keto, we’re looking at you.) Here we discuss what they are, what they provide and how to include them as part of a healthful, balanced diet. What we love about the meals at DCE is they are nutritionally balanced with excellent portions and awesome flavours. They also have Lower-carb options available to tailor your carb intake for your individual goals.
Our food is made up of three main components (known as macro-nutrients) which are protein, fat and of course carbohydrates. When we enjoy, eat, and digest our food, the body breaks it down into these components to provide us with energy. Broken down, the word carbohydrate means the following; ‘carb’ = carbon molecule, ‘hydra’ = hydrogen molecule and ‘ate’ indicates an oxygen molecule.
Carbohydrates can be defined by several different categories. Broadly speaking however, they can be defined as either simple (meaning fewer sugar units) or complex (multiple sugar units). Simple carbs include sugars such as fructose (found in fruits) and glucose. Complex carbs include glycogen (the storage form of glucose in the body), starches and fibre.
A word on fibre
One of the most important nutrients that carbohydrate rich foods provide is fibre. Fibre is the edible parts of plants and it is partially or completely broken down by bacteria in the large intestine. This is why it has important benefits for our bowel movements and gut health. Some carbohydrate type foods that contain fibre include oats, barley, quinoa, wholegrain breads, brown rice, bananas, sweet potatoes, raspberries and pears.
While the common foods that spring to mind when discussing carbohydrates are breads, cereals, rice, pasta and noodles, the truth is carbohydrates are found lots of foods!
- Fruits contain the fruit sugar fructose, and fibre.
- Vegetables described as ‘starchy’ also contain carbohydrates including corn, peas, potato and pumpkin.
- Lentils are a great source of carbohydrate as they contribute significant fibre.
- Milks and yoghurts contain carbohydrates, mainly in the form of lactose.
One of the reasons that carbohydrates have been given a bad name is due to the excess of added simple sugars to heavily processed foods. Whilst ok in moderation, it is important to centre your diet primarily around fresh, wholesome foods that have a good portion of carbohydrates with the added benefits of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Such as in the case of our wholegrain breads, lentils, veggies and fruits.
Who needs carbohydrates?
The short answer is everybody, but usually in differing amounts! Carbohydrates are one of the bodies primary fuel sources and they provide energy to do basically everything. From brain function to digestion, exercise, daily life, recovery while you sleep and anything in between, they are the gate keepers to living an energetic life. Tailoring the right amount of carbohydrates for you is important and should you require individual advice, seek an Accredited Practicing Dietitian to work with you.
There are also certain conditions were paying particular focus to carbohydrate intake is essential to staying well, such as diabetes and some intolerance/allergies.
Low carbohydrate diets such as the keto-trend and paleo can be attractive due to their ability to lower weight quickly. However, evidence points to the ineffectiveness of these strategies in the long-term. As always, we recommend everything in moderation and carbs are no exception, listen to your body and choose healthy, wholesome carbohydrate sources.
Some of our favourites on the menu right now include:
Whilst everyone has tailored needs, carbohydrates are definitely here to stay!