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Switching Bad Carbohydrates for Good for Heart Health

June 7, 2010

It may sound like it’s making your life more complicated, asking you to switch simple for complex carbohydrates. And then asking you to do it “for good” – which means both “for your own good” and “for the long term.” But choosing good, complex carbs makes your life better, and it’s not that hard to do.

Carbohydrates for heart healthHere’s how complex carbohydrates are good for you, according to Good Carbs.org:

  • high in fiber: helps you stay full longer (and avoid overeating), provides sustained energy, lowers cholesterol levels, helps to remove toxins from the body
  • low glycemic index: stabilizes blood sugar levels and insulin production
  • high in nutrients: natural vitamins, minerals & phytonutrients promote health and help to prevent chronic disease
  • low 'energy-density' (except nuts & seeds): provides sustained energy, promotes healthy weight loss and long-term weight maintenance
  • greater 'thermic effect': naturally stimulates metabolism and promotes fat loss

So here’s how and where to make the switch:

Throughout the day, embrace fruits and vegetables. (And the less you do to them, the better they are for you.) Put fruit on your cereal, or have fruit with whole grain toast in the morning. Take some for snacking throughout the day, and then make sure the bulk of your meals are vegetables.

Swap your snacks. Instead of pretzels, have celery with almond butter, or carrot sticks; instead of corn chips, have a handful of walnuts and some string cheese. Have an oatmeal cookie instead of candy, and juice, milk or soy milk instead of soda.

For cereal, bread or dinners, try choosing high-brain or whole-grain alternatives. Kashi or oatmeal for breakfast, darker breads for sandwiches, and new and exotic grains like quinoa, boiled barley, bulgur, and kasha instead of rice or pasta. If you must have rice, make it brown or wild rice, and for pasta look for whole wheat or other types.