Refined carbohydrates are complex carbs that have had fiber stripped from them leaving imitate simple carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates are rapidly digested causing a blood sugar spike, which is followed by some crash. These types of carbs are empty calories and can potentially lead to diabetes development, according to the study of the University of Tennessee.
Refined Carbohydrates vs. Unrefined Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates can be termed as macronutrients found in foods, and they provide your body with energy. Even so, there are a variety of carbs and their impact on your body's health differs; foods can contain unrefined or refined carbohydrates. Although each carbohydrate type will provide you with four calories per gram, the nutritional content is different. Before deciding on either carbohydrate type, you are advised to consult your physician to know the merits and demerits of both depending on your health status.
They are grains that have been processed. During the process of milling, the germ and bran is stripped off and the grain's endosperm is pulverized. The end product becomes easier to chew and digest. The main reason manufacturers process the grain is because the shelf life is increased. Even so, this process removes important nutrients portion from those grains. Some of the nutrients removed include half of the Vitamins B, 90% of vitamin E and about all the fiber.
Some sources of refined carbohydrates include:
- Frozen vegetables and fruits
They are whole grains. Whole grains preserve the whole seed kernel, which is inclusive of the endosperm, germ and bran. Whole grains are nutrient-dense and contain high amounts of antioxidants, minerals, fiber and vitamins. When you eat whole grains, the health and quality of your diet improves.
Some source of unrefined carbohydrates include:
- Whole grains
- Seeds and Legumes
Foods with High Refined Carbohydrates
Any other syrup apart from syrup made from natural maple is considered refined. Corn syrup containing high amounts of fructose and sugar is mostly added to packaged foods turning them into sources of foods with refined carbohydrates. Honey and maple syrup (natural) cannot be termed as being refined carbs. However, they do fall under the category of simple carbohydrates and therefore have a similar blood glucose effect to that of refined carbs.
All beverages that contain refined syrup or sugar should be considered refined carbohydrates. Some of them are sweet tea, soft drinks, wine beer and fruit juices (sweetened). Although juice made from fruits does not contain refined carbs, it does have high carbohydrate amounts per serving, and that is why you are advised to take whole fresh fruits than fruit juices.
3. Frozen or Canned Fruits and Vegetables
Even though raw vegetables and fruits make a good source of unrefined carbs, when they are canned they are considered refined because sugar will be added. Some examples of refined carbohydrates in vegetables and fruits include apple sauce with sugar added, canned fruit that has been sweetened and canned fillings for fruit pies. There are even some frozen or canned vegetables that may have seasonings added along with sugar.
4. White Flour
White flour, and any other thing made from it, are refined carbs and as such should be limited when included in the diet. They include many packaged cereals, bread, muffins and bagels. When the white flour is mixed with sugar, it becomes an even bigger source of refined carbs. Foods with this kind of combination include donuts, cakes, cupcakes and cookies. In order to buy wheat that does not contain refined carbs, always buy wheat that reads "whole grain" or "whole wheat" on the label. If the wheat you want to buy has the following labels, chances are that it has been made using refined grain: "cracked wheat", stoned wheat", wheat flour", multi-grain" and "100% wheat". Pasta and white rice are also a source of refined carbs.
Most snacks are made using sugar and white flour among other ingredients and thereby termed as foods with refined carbohydrates. Some of the snacks include sweets such as candy & candy bars, pie, jelly and fudge.
How to Cut Back on Refined Carbohydrates
1. Pasta Alternatives
Use whole wheat as an alternative to white pasta. This will instantly raise vitamins, proteins and fiber amounts. White pasta has been stripped off all the layers. Even though there are manufacturers who enrich their white pasta after stripping it, it will still not have similar nutritional value as it does prior to the process. With whole wheat, you will fill up for longer than you would when eating refined carbs.
2. Rice Alternatives
Replacing white rice with brown rice is the obvious alternative, but not everyone is a fan of brown rice. Luckily, there are still other alternatives to white rice like spelt and couscous berries. They make great alternatives and will provide unique texture and taste.
3. White Bread Alternatives
White bread has very few nutritional gains, and there are brands that have been riddled with extra ingredients, which are really not necessary. When you eat refined white bread carbohydrates it may result in gaining of weight. Reason is, refined carbs are easily digested into your system and so, you may feel hungry soon after eating. Using whole grain, whole wheat, multi-grain or rye breads that have a few extra ingredients will not only fill you up quickly, but also keep you full for longer.
4. Sugar Alternatives
Agave nectar will make a wonderful alternative to sugar. Agave nectar contains low levels of glycemic index, which means it is absorbed in your body slower than honey or sugar. It therefore provides a steadier energy stream all day. It is also sweeter compared to sugar, so there is no need of using much.