Unrefined carbs make a far better choice than refined carbs. Unrefined carbs are minimally processed, rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and include whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. Refined carbs -- white bread, chips and soda -- on the other hand, are highly processed, offer very little nutritional value and may make it harder for you to lose weight.
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Better Off With Whole Grains
Grains include foods made from wheat, rice, oats, barley or any other cereal grain. A whole grain still contains the whole-grain kernel, including the bran, germ and endosperm. People who include more whole grains in their diet have lower rates of heart disease and tend to have an easier time managing their weight than people who don't. Healthy unrefined whole-grain food options include 100 percent whole-wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal and popcorn.
Enjoy a Rainbow of Fruits
You may be avoiding fruits because you've heard they are high in sugar. While that is true, as unrefined carbs, fruits are also rich in nutrients like antioxidants that help your body fight against heart disease and cancer. The same isn't true for the added sugar found in foods like soda and candy. To vary your nutrient intake, include an array of colors when selecting fruit for the week. Healthy options include strawberries, oranges, bananas, plums and blueberries.
Load Up on Veggies
You may not consider veggies a carb-containing food, but a 1/2-cup serving of a cooked vegetable may contain 5 to 15 grams. Like fruits, vegetables are also loaded with antioxidants, as well as fiber, potassium and folate. Fresh, frozen and low-sodium canned vegetables all make good choices when trying to up your intake of unrefined carbs. You can't go wrong eating more broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots or tomatoes.
Get a Little Protein With Your Beans and Peas
Beans and peas are not only unrefined carbs, but also a healthy alternative source of protein. Low in fat and high in fiber, beans and peas are rich in iron and zinc -- nutrients found in meat and poultry -- and potassium and folate -- nutrients found in vegetables. Beans and peas are so nutritious they fall into both the vegetable and protein food groups. Healthy choices include garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils and black-eyed peas.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates
- USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov: Grains
- Fruits &amp; Veggies More Matters: About the Buzz: The Sugar in Fruit and Table Sugar Are Basically the Same?
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: The Exchange List for Diabetic Meal Planning
- USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov: Vegetables
- USDA: ChooseMyPlate.gov: Beans and Peas Are Unique Foods