The carbohydrates we consume are used as fuel for energy. The fibre component of carbohydrates is important for our digestive health. Carbohydrates are found almost exclusively in plant foods in the form of sugars, starches and cellulose. They are abundant in grains, bread and other flour products, vegetables, beans, nuts, fruits and some seeds. (non-plant exceptions e.g. milk contains lactose)
Western diets can be very carbohydrate focused - cereals for breakfast, scones/pastries for snacks, sandwiches for lunch and carb centered dinners e.g. pasta/potatoes/rice occupying the bulk of the dinner plate. Also much of this type of diet centers around wheat and sugar, the over consumption of which can lead to health problems.
Tips around carbohydrates:
Choose wholegrains over refined grains e.g. oats, wholemeal bread, wholewheat pasta, wholegrain rice, buckwheat, quinoa, rye, spelt. They are high in fibre and more nutritionally dense. Avoid regular consumption of refined foods e.g. white bread, white pasta, white rice, wheat flour, etc.
Eat the skins of fruits such as apples, pears, plums etc - the skins provide fibre and contain vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients. (Remember non-organic fruits can be heavily sprayed with pesticides so choose organic if you can)
Choose variety: eat a variety of different grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds. In this way you will benefit from a variety of micro-nutrients and can avoid deficiencies.
Starchy veg should be categorised as the carbohydrate on your plate as it is high in poly-saccharides (long chains of glucose molecules). Examples are potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, squash, pumpkin, corn, peas.
Choose fresh, local, seasonal, organic produce where possible. e.g. In Autumn, pick blackberries from your local hedgerows versus buying supermarket
blueberries imported from the other side of the globe.
If having a snack, combine carbohydrate based foods with protein/fats. e.g. apple with nuts, grapes with cheese. The nuts and cheese help prevent a sugar spike and keep you fuller for longer thus avoiding the slump that can follow an energy spike.
Top Tip! Reduce your refined sugar intake. This includes sugary drinks, added sugar, biscuits, cakes, puddings, sweets, milk chocolate, ice-cream.....