A lot of people refer to white carbs such as white bread and pasta as “bad foods,” but what is it that makes them so unhealthy?
White carbs or “white foods” are any form of baked goods made with flour that is processed and dyed. Processed flour is produced by stripping the wheat plants of the outermost bran and germ layers and only using only the inner endosperm layer. This is not beneficial because the outer fibrous layer of the wheat plant, which gives brown foods like whole wheat bread their tan color, is a healthy part of the plant. Fiber allows for slower digestion, which results in a lower spike in blood sugar and longer satiety.
These “white” products like bread, pasta, desserts, and syrups contain high amounts of sugar and are often fattening, which increases the risk for diabetes type 2 and obesity. Unfortunately, these white carbohydrates are also delicious and addictive. It is easy to eat a whole plate of cookies or a whole basket of bread, as the flavors can often be satisfying. Bread and other baked goods fill the stomach without letting you feel full, making it easy to overindulge in certain foods.
What are “Good” Carbohydrates?
Good carbohydrates are those that do not come from white or processed flour. Vegetables, whole grains, and legumes contain good carbohydrates, which are essentially chains of sugar molecules that your body can break down. The reason these are healthier than the white carbohydrates is that the molecule makeup of good carbohydrates takes longer for your body to digest. That way, you have much more energy for a longer period of time and there are more nutrients for your body to use. These good carbohydrates are also known as complex carbohydrates and they are often found naturally in many edible plants.
White carbohydrates are known as simple carbohydrates. This is because most processed foods do not have a complex molecular makeup. A list of simple and “bad” carbohydrates include:
- White rice
- All candy
- Artificial syrups
Vegetables and fruits also count as simple carbohydrates. This is because they are composed of basic sugars, just like the white carbohydrates. What makes them much healthier than processed foods is the heavy amount of fiber in fruits and vegetables. So, while they are classified as simple carbohydrates, they act as complex carbohydrates.
Take Steps Towards a Better Diet
According to the American Heart Association, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day and even more in simple carbohydrates. These white foods provide very little nutritional value and the sugar in them work against the health of the body.
Replace white carbohydrates with other natural and complex carbohydrates to improve your diet. Make use of whole wheat bread instead of white bread when making a sandwich. Add more legumes and vegetables to your diet to get the right amount of fiber. Substitute white rice with brown rice, which will offer you more nutrition per grain. Try to eliminate sugary beverages and snacks altogether, such as sodas and candy. These high sugar products can cause ailments such as weight gain, diabetes, and cavities.