In my last few articles I have been discussing carbohydrates in detail. I have covered the benefits of consuming the right amount, the disadvantages of consuming too many and the methods to follow when choosing carbohydrates. Today I want to make this advice a little more practical and supply you with seven healthy carbohydrates that you should be eating on a regular basis.
1) APPLES:- Apples are tasty and come in a variety of flavours. They are also small and portable meaning that they can be eaten any time and anywhere. On top of this apples are rich in a number of healthy nutrients including fibre, vitamin C, various antioxidants, flavonoids and phytonutrients.
Fibre has a number of health benefits which include improved blood sugar control and improved bowel health. Vitamin C also performs a number of important functions including helping your wounds heal and strengthening your immune system. Antioxidants, flavonoids and phytonutrients all act in a protective capacity with antioxidants protecting the body from oxygen related damage, flavonoids triggering the production of natural enzymes that fight disease and phytonutrients themselves having disease preventing qualities.
2) BANANAS:- Bananas are another fruit that is small and easy to carry making them perfect for snacking. I find that they are particularly good as a pre-gym snack as they give you energy for the workout and eliminate any hunger pangs that may occur as you exercise. Bananas are also nutrient rich containing high levels of fibre, manganese, potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.
Manganese has various health benefits which include helping your body to absorb various vitamins and keeping your bones strong. Potassium also helps your body in various ways which include lowering your blood pressure and promoting bone thickness. Vitamin B6 helps your body break down protein into a form that your body can use and also assists with hormone regulation.
3) BELL PEPPERS:- Bell peppers can be eaten raw or cooked as part of a meal or on their own. I like to put them in curries, casseroles, fajitas and more as they add a perfect blend of colour and flavour to the meal. Bell peppers also contain high levels of fibre, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects your cells from the damage that using oxygen can cause. It can also protect you from cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Vitamin K helps your blood clot and is therefore essential for proper wound healing. Without adequate levels of this vitamin your blood will not clot and even the smallest wounds will bleed continuously.
4) MUSHROOMS:- Mushrooms are extremely versatile and can be added to casseroles, curries, stews and more. In fact I have them with almost all of my evening meals. As well as being a tasty addition to most meals, mushrooms are also one of the most nutrient rich food choices around. They contain extremely high levels of the B complex vitamins (particularly vitamin B2), copper, selenium and tryptophan.
The B complex vitamins are all vital for getting energy and nutrients from the food you eat whilst vitamin B2 also promotes healthy skin and vision. Copper performs a number of important functions which include keeping your connective tissue healthy and helping your body absorb iron. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant which protects your cells from oxygen related damage. Tryptophan is a nutrient that assists with relaxation and can both help you sleep and improve your mood.
5) ONIONS:- Onions are another versatile food that can be put into almost any meal. Although not everyone is a huge fan of the taste I think that onions add a perfect crunchy texture to meals. They also provide your body with various nutrients including chromium, fibre, manganese, molybdenum, vitamin C and various flavonoids.
Chromium improves your cells responsiveness to insulin, vitamin C and certain flavonoids which allows them to absorb blood glucose and other nutrients more easily. The flavonoids in onions have also been linked with the prevention of a number of cancers including breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer.
6) ORANGES:- Oranges have a nice, sweet but tangy flavour. Like the other fruits listed, oranges are very portable making them a perfect snack food. They are most famous for their high levels of vitamin C but this is not their only nutritional benefit. Oranges also contain high levels of fibre, vitamin A , vitamin B1 and vitamin B9.
Vitamin A is essential for healthy vision and a deficiency can lead to the onset of night blindness (a condition that makes it almost impossible to see in low light levels). Vitamin B1 and vitamin B9 are both needed by your body to properly break down food into energy. However, vitamin B1 also helps keep your nervous system healthy whilst vitamin B9 also assists with the production of serotonin which can boost your mood.
7) SPINACH:- Spinach is another surprisingly versatile carbohydrate source. Canned spinach is a great, tasty addition to beef and lamb based dishes whilst fresh spinach goes great on sandwiches. On top of this it is full of nutrients including calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin K.
Calcium and magnesium are both very important nutrients which helps you build strong, healthy bones. They also support healthy muscles and nerves. On top of this calcium helps your blood clot whilst magnesium promotes good blood circulation. Iron helps your body produce energy and also supports a healthy immune system.
As you can see there are many fruits and vegetables out there which make excellent carbohydrate choices and you really should consider adding some of these to your diet. The seven I have listed are all foods that I eat on a regular basis but there are a lot more healthy carbohydrate choices out there. If none of the above take your fancy then do a little research and find some healthy carbs that you do like. Not only will this provide your body with its preferred energy source but it will also supply you with many vital nutrients.
Now I want to hear your thoughts. Do you eat any of the above carbohydrate sources on a regular basis? Are there any other foods that you would recommend adding to this list? Let me know by posting a comment.