What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are an important nutrient you get from food. It's a great source of energy for your body and helps your brain and nervous system work properly.
How does your body use carbohydrates?
After you eat food with carbs in it, your body digests the carbohydrates and turns them into a kind of sugar that goes into your blood. The blood carries this sugar to the cells in your body. The cells use the sugar to give you energy. Extra sugar is stored in the cells for later use. If it isn't used, it turns into fat.
Where do carbohydrates come from?
The healthiest carbohydrate choices are breads, cereals, and pastas made with whole grains; brown rice; low-fat dairy products; vegetables; legumes such as peas, lentils, and beans; and fruits.
Foods made from refined flour, including bread, pasta, doughnuts, cookies, and desserts, also contain carbohydrates. So do sweets such as candy and soda.
How can you get the right kind and amount of carbs?
Eating too much of anything can lead to weight gain. And that can lead to other health problems.
Go to Canada's Food Guide at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/basics-base/quantit-eng.php to learn how many food guide servings you should aim for each day. Here are some tips to help you eat the right amount of the right kind of carbs so you have the nutrition and the energy you need:
- Eat foods from the grain products group each day. For example, a serving is 1 slice of bread, 30 g of cold cereal, ½ cup of cooked rice or cooked pasta, or ¾ cup cooked cereal.
- Buy bread that lists whole wheat (or other whole grains), stone-ground wheat, or cracked wheat as the first ingredient.
- Eat brown rice, bulgur, or millet instead of white rice.
- Eat pasta and cereals made from whole grain flour instead of refined flour.
- Eat foods from the vegetables and fruit group each day. These include raspberries, apples, figs, oranges, pears, prunes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, corn, peas, and beans. And there are lots of other fruits and vegetables to choose from.
- Limit the amount of candy, desserts, and soda in your diet.