Mahaska Health Partnership Explains Carbohydrates
MAHASKA COUNTY – It seems like every time you turn on the TV or read an article, there is something new to avoid in your diet because it’s “bad.” One item that has gotten a bad reputation is carbohydrates. MHP Registered Dietitian Lea Rice explains why carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet.
“Unfortunately, there is always new research coming out that can contain conflicting information,” Rice explained. “It’s best to stick to tried and true ways to encourage healthy eating habits that your entire family can enjoy.”
According to Rice, one item that frequently gets a bad reputation is carbohydrates. “Most of the food we eat has some form of carbohydrates in it. While complex carbohydrates contain multiple nutritional benefits like fiber, there are more refined versions like white bread and rice, fruit juice, sugary cereal, cakes, cookies and French fries that are low in fiber and can cause blood sugar spikes.
“By making simple swaps in your diet, you can get much more benefit out of the carbohydrates you already love.”
Rice explained fiber’s key role in a healthy digestive system. “Fiber helps slow the absorption of nutrients, helping prevent large swings in your blood sugar levels. This can help prevent type 2 diabetes and other health complications. Fiber found in certain foods like oats, beans and some fruits can also help lower cholesterol levels. Plus, it helps you feel full longer, which can help avoid overindulging at the dinner table.”
One suggestion Rice offered was switching to whole grains whenever possible. “Look for muffins, breads, tortillas, pastas and cereals that contain whole grains for maximum nutritional benefit. The fiber content in these will help boost your digestive health and help avoid too much sugar in your system.
“Getting five servings per day of fruits and vegetables will also provide you with healthier carbohydrate and fiber options,” Rice continued. “This amount alone will provide you roughly 10 grams of fiber, close to half of your daily recommended amount. Also look for ways to incorporate a half cup serving of beans or bean products into your meal plan; these can provide an additional 4-8 grams of daily fiber.”
When it comes to carbohydrates, moderation and smart choices are key. “Most Americans get too much sugar in their diets, so making alternate choices when possible can provide multiple health benefits,” Rice encouraged. “Try a new recipe with whole grains or give veggie pasta a try, your family probably won’t even notice and may even appreciate the new flavors!”
Registered Dietitian Lea Rice provides inpatient and outpatient nutrition education, helping patients understand how their diet affects their overall health and well-being; including counseling patients with chronic health conditions. She is very involved in the community and enjoys sharing evidence-based nutrition information. To schedule an appointment with Rice, call 641.672.3303.
Mahaska Health Partnership, located in Oskaloosa, is a non-profit health system accredited by the Joint Commission. It is guided by its mission to provide exceptional customer service and health improvement, linking the science of medicine with the humanity of compassionate care. For more information about how Mahaska Health Partnership is making healthcare personal, visit mahaskahealth.org.