Health Magazine

My Favourite Carbs

By Staceycurcio @staceymccosker

Not all carbs are created equally. The best ones are chock-full of nutrition and fibre, adding balance to our meals.

I generally recommend people opt for plant/veggie-based carbs, over grain-based carbs. Although there are exceptions to the rule; fruit, vegetables and legumes generally contain more fibre, nutrients and antioxidants than grains, and are often less processed.

Take sweet potato versus rice (a classic comparison of a veggie-based carb, versus a grain-based carb). Both contain roughly the same amount of carbohydrate per serve (around 50g per cup). BUT, sweet potato has 40% less calories, 10 times as much potassium, twice as much Magnesium, 15000IU of vitamin A versus pretty much none in rice, and 6 times as much fibre. Impressive.

Here is a list of my favourite carbs...

Sweet potato - An obvious choice. It's loaded with fibre, and an impressive range of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The great thing is when potatoes are cooked, then cooled before eating, the resistant starch content goes right up... which is a very good thing for our gut bugs! These flavour packed gems can be roasted, pureed, steamed, baked, grilled and added to everything from soups to desserts. Delicious, healthy, affordable and versatile. What's not to love?

Chickpeas - The humble chickpea is one of the most widely grown and eaten beans in the world, second only to the soy bean. These little legumes are chock full of fibre, and contain decent levels of iron. Chickpea flour (aka besan flour) is also great to cook with, and being gluten-free and containing more protein then most other flours, it's a good option for those avoiding gluten and vegans/vegetarians. Chickpea cookie dough balls anyone?

Bananas - They're not one of the world's most popular fruits for nothing! They are made up of about 23% carbs, either in the form of starches or sugars. One banana will give you 20-25g of carbohydrate, more than a slice of bread. Full of potassium, B-vitamins and resistant starch and pectin; bananas are the original fast food.

Blueberries - These super berries are not only incredibly good for you, but they taste delicious! Blueberries contain around 14.5% carbohydrate, higher than most other berries. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, and are a good source of fibre. Regular consumption of blueberries lowers the risk of heart disease, and boosts brain function. Trying this blueberry ice-cream is a must.

Buckwheat - This pseudo-grain is a rich source of protein, quercetin, rutin, manganese, magnesium, zinc, iron and B-vitamins. Buckwheat is gluten-free, and also contains soluble fibre and resistant starch (both wonderful prebiotics). One cup of Buckwheat will give you about 55g of carbohydrate, roughly the same as one cup of cooked rice, or sweet potato. Buckwheat can be used in so many ways, are just a few ideas.

Green Peas - Cheap, healthy and versatile. Green peas are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, and these health-supportive nutrients are provided in a wide range of nutrient categories. Peas are one of the few members of the legume family that are commonly sold and cooked as fresh vegetables. Half a cup of peas will add about 10g of carbohydrate to your meal.

Oats - My (almost) 90-year-old Nana, eats oats every single morning. She's fighting fit, and I think she's onto something! Oats are readily available, are super affordable, and are a fabulous source of soluble fibre, and B-group vitamins. For a grain, oats are relatively high in protein which is a bonus. Oats are really handy to have in the pantry to add to slices, bars, protein balls and muesli.

Bottom Line

Although most of my favourite carbs are lower in carbohydrate than foods such as bread, pasta, cereal and rice... they aren't what I'd call 'low-carb'. When it comes to your daily intake, keep in mind that each person's insulin tolerance, and thus their response to carbs, varies. Some people can metabolically handle a high load of carbs due to being more insulin sensitive, and some people thrive on low-carb regimes due to being more insulin resistant. There are many factors which influence your insulin signalling, such as genetics, epigenetics, hormonal imbalances, body composition, metabolic health and environment.

The amount of carbs your body needs each day will be an amount which is unique to you. Opt for nutrient-dense fibre-rich carbs, consume them with quality proteins and favourable fats, and as always, listen to your body.

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