The majority of the energy we use in our daily lives comes from carbohydrates. The energy provided is not just for exercise such as walking, running or swimming but also provides energy for normal body functions such as heartbeat, breathing and digestion as well. There are two different types of carbohydrates. The first are called simple carbohydrates, including simple sugars such as fructose, sucrose and lactose (the sugar found in milk). The second type of carbohydrate are called complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates include starch and fiber. Complex carbohydrates are often times referred to as whole grains which are made up of soluble and insoluble fiber. Consuming whole grains like whole wheat flour, rolled oats, barley, rye and brown rice along with other plant foods that are low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol can help reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.
When making food choices, be aware of products loaded with simple carbohydrates, such as white rice, white bread, and refined sugars. Generally, foods that have not been processed contain fewer calories. A few good examples of this include bananas versus banana bread: cooked oatmeal versus oatmeal cookies, Whenever fiber is removed from food and fat and sugar are added that calories tend to increase and the nutrient values tend to decrease. Simple carbohydrates like donuts, saltine crackers and white bread are all made with white flour and sugar. They have little nutrient density to them and therefore, you will need to eat more calories in order for these items to make you feel full.
Review your own diet; do you typically eat more simple to complex carbohydrates? If you tend to eat more simple carbohydrates there is no time like the present to add complex carbohydrate foods to your diet. Try adding these foods to your regular meals and snacks for an added boost of fiber and nutrients. Replace potato chips with some whole-wheat crackers for a snack. Enjoy servings of whole grain bread or cereal at breakfast and lunch instead of white bread and sugary cereals. Munch on carrot sticks and fruit instead of cookies for a snack. Each little change in your diet may just improve your health and add years of your life.
Wonderful Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
Yields – 3 loaves
1/3 cup water
1 ½ pkgs active dry yeast
4 cups fat-free or low-fat milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 ½ tbsp salt
6 cups whole wheat flour
Dissolve the yeast in 2/3 cup water. Boil milk. Once milk is boiling dissolve sugar in milk. Allow the milk to cool 5-10 minutes.