The Quick Key to Healthy Carbs

fruit, healthy carbs

Many diet books portray carbohydrates as the enemy, but the truth is that all carbs are not alike. Some are more healthful than others, and for good health, we need to be mindful of our carbohydrate choices.

Carbs at a glance:
Carbohydrates provide us with the fastest form of energy, usable by every cell. They are found in many types of whole and processed foods from apples to whole wheat ziti. The healthiest carbs come from whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and whole fruits. The least-healthy carbs come from white bread, white rice, pasta, other refined grains, sugary foods, sugary drinks, and potatoes.

How unhealthy carbs interact with the body
: Eating large portions of  foods that contain unhealthy carbs can send your blood sugar on a roller coaster. First, as your body quickly converts the carbohydrate in these foods to glucose and absorbs the glucose from the gut, blood-sugar levels rise high; your pancreas pumps out insulin to rapidly clear the glucose from the blood, but it may overshoot things a bit, causing your blood sugar to dip lower. This sequence may lead you to feel hungry again, not long after finishing your meal.

Why limit unhealthy carbs: Over time, eating diets high in rapidly digested carbohydrates may increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and there is evidence that limiting these types of foods in your diet may help with weight loss. The American Heart Association recommends that Americans drastically cut back on added sugar, to help slow the obesity and heart disease epidemics.

Why it’s important to choose healthy carbs: Long term studies have found that people who eat, on average, two or three servings of whole-grain foods a day have a 20 to 30 percent lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Fruits and vegetables are also a great source of healthy carbohydrates, and most Americans do not eat enough of them.

Easy tips for limiting your consumption of unhealthy carbs: 

  • Limit refined grains and anything made with white flour. These foods are nutritionally bankrupt substitutes for whole grains. The refining process strips the grain of nearly all the healthy nutrients: vitamins, fiber, minerals. 
  • Limit your potato consumption. Potatoes have much more in common with starchy carbs than they do with vegetables. Consider them as less healthy carbohydrates, do not count them in your vegetable servings.
  • The AHA’s suggested added sugar threshold is no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons of sugar) for most women, and 150 calories per day (9 teaspoons) for men.
  • A good rule of thumb is to skip products that have added sugar at or near the top of the list, or have several sources of added sugar sprinkled throughout the list.
  • Keep in mind, your body doesn’t need to get any carbohydrates from added sugar!

Easy tips for eating more healthy carbs:

  •  Eat more beans! They are rich in healthy carbs and protein.
  • Start the day with whole grain cereal or oats
  • Choose whole fruits instead of juice to skip the added sugar
  • Use whole grain breads for lunch or snacks
  • View Dr. Lilian Cheung’s Whole Grain Pantry Makeover for many more whole grain ideas

If there are unhealthy carbohydrates you really enjoy, eat them only once in a while and Savor them.

To learn more about Carbohydrates, visit the Nutrition Source.

Photo used under by riganmc



I totally disagree about the potatoes! Potatoes are a good, natural food, not refined like the other things you group them with; ( I am not talking about french fries, here, or those nasty things in a box that people think make mashed "potatoes", and not potato chips, either; potatoes have a long history of sustenance when eaten in combination with other healthy foods; bah, humbug! I'm growing organic potatoes and will continue to eat and enjoy them; like every other fad, this will pass

Dear Lyn,

Thank you for your comment. I agree with you that potatoes are a natural food when they are not highly processed. The key concern about potatoes is that they are high in easily digestible carbohydrate, which is why they have more in common with refined grains like white rice and white bread than they do with vegetables like broccoli or zucchini.

Potatoes were not a problem for populations that maintained active lifestyles, such as in the early 20th century when people worked in more labor intensive jobs such as farming. But, with our current modern way of life that is rather sedentary, we have to be mindful of the total amount of potatoes that we consume daily. We can still eat and enjoy them, but sparingly. Use them more like a condiment instead of the center of the plate!


I absolutely adore your website and I can't get enough of it! You combine both nutrition and spiritual information which makes it holistic!

Thank you Patty! Please don't hesitate to ask us questions here or request blog topics that interest you.

With a smile,

Lilian & the Savor Sangha