You may refer to them as slow-burning carbs, but they're also known as carbs with a low glycemic index. These types of carbs are digested and absorbed -- burned -- more slowly than carbs with a high glycemic index. Eating slow-burning carbs also keeps hunger away and helps with blood sugar control. Slow-burning carbs tend to be higher in fiber, protein or fat and include a variety of different fruits and vegetables, certain types of grains and most legumes and dairy foods.
Slow-burning fruits have a glycemic index of 55 or less, which is true of all slow-burning carbs. Examples include cherries, plums, grapefruit, apples, pears, grapes, oranges, prunes, dried apricots, kiwi and peaches. Filling your diet with low-GI foods may help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And if you have diabetes, slow-burning carbs may help you gain better control over your blood sugar and lower both cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Peas, carrots, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, green beans and red peppers are examples of slow-burning vegetables. Not only are these veggies a good source of energy, but they are also low in calories and high in fiber, potassium, folate and vitamins A and C. People who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduce their risk of heart disease. These foods may also offer protection against certain types of cancer.
Healthy Grain Choices
In addition to grains such as rice, grain foods include bread, cereal, crackers and pastas. Not all healthy grain choices, such as whole-grain oat cereal, are slow-burning carbs. Those considered slow-burning carbs include oat bran, rolled oats, whole-grain pumpernickel bread, whole-wheat bread, spaghetti, brown rice, pearled barley and wheat tortillas. While spaghetti and other types of pastas are considered slow-burning, cooking affects GI. Cook your pasta al dente to keep GI low.
Sustained Energy With Legumes
When looking to add more slow-burning carbs to your diet, you can't go wrong with legumes, which include mature beans and peas. Kidney beans, butter beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, navy beans, lentils and yellow split peas all make good choices. Improve energy levels by adding these beans and peas to your salad, soup and whole-grain side dishes. In addition to being healthy carbs, beans are a good source of protein, as well as zinc and iron.
Make Healthy Dairy Choices
Both milk and yogurt are considered slow-burning carbs. While whole milk and full-fat yogurt may be a good source of energy, they are also high in unhealthy saturated fat. So, when it comes to dairy, you need to be mindful of your choices. Healthy slow-burning dairy foods include skim milk and fat-free, sugar-free yogurt. And for those who don't drink cow's milk, soy milk is also a slow-burning carb.
- NetWellness: Ask an Expert: Slow and Fast Burning Carbs
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: What Is Glycemic Index?
- The GI Diet Guide: High, Medium and Low-GI Foods
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: ChooseMyPlate.gov: Vegetables
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: ChooseMyPlate.gov: Dairy: Tips for Making Wise Choices
- American Diabetic Association: Glycemic Index and Diabetes