Carbohydrates for a Healthy Life

Contrary to common belief, carbohydrates are not exclusive to sugary, drinks, tempting desserts, or grain foods, but are present in many other healthy items including dried beans, carrots, berries, cauliflower, quinoa, milk, and yogurt.

A carbohydrate is a macronutrient, a type of food that we need in large quantities in order to live, and it constitutes the primary source of energy for our body cells[1]; particularly for the brain, the nervous system, and the red blood cells.

On the other hand, a calorie is a unit of energy. All macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) provide an average number of calories per gram. In order to maintain a healthy weight, it is important to be aware of your overall calorie intake, how much energy you consume through drinking and eating, and calorie expenditure, how much energy you use through metabolic processes and physical activity.

According to the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans[2], 45-65% of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates, 10-35% from protein, and 20-30 from dietary fat.The amount of calories a person needs on a daily basis varies according to an array of factors such as age, sex, height, weight, health conditions, and the level of physical activity.

In addition, in alignment to The Eatwell Guide[3], where the British government instructs to choose whole grain and high fiber foods, the United States Department of Agriculturethrough the program MyPlate[4] advises to include whole grains as part of a healthy eating style. Whole grains may protect against obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes;[5] as well as the fiber in whole grains has shown to lower bad cholesterol and promote good gut health.[6]

There is an assortment of foods that contain carbohydrates:

  • Dairy products, such as skimmed milk, low-fat yogurt, and cottage cheese.
  • Fruits, such as pineapple, papaya, pears, and berries.
  • Whole grains, such as whole wheat, amaranth, brown rice, and oats.
  • Grain foods, such as bread, pasta, tortillas, crackers, and noodles.
  • Legumes, such as garbanzo beans and lentils.
  • Vegetables, such as carrots, beetroots, broccoli, and potatoes.
  • Desserts such as cake, rice pudding, and gelatins.

Choose the best option and enjoy a healthy life!