Refined carbohydrates contribute to diabetes. Here’s how to eat whole grains.

Refined carbohydrates contribute to diabetes.  Here's how to eat whole grains.
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Refined carbs have been shown to be a major driver of type 2 diabetes.

A Tufts University study tracked the worldwide growth of type 2 diabetes and found the consumption of refined carbohydrates such as white pasta. According to CNN, “In fact, the study estimated that 7 out of 10 cases of type 2 diabetes worldwide in 2018 were linked to poor dietary choices.”

According to the New York Post, as many as 14 million cases of diabetes could be linked to refined carbohydrates. “The research focused on 11 dietary factors and found that three had a disturbing influence on the rise in diabetes diagnoses.” These three factors included red meat, processed meat, and refined carbohydrates.

What are refined carbohydrates?

Refined carbohydrates fall into two categories: sugars and simple carbohydrates.

Some examples of refined carbohydrates include table sugar or white rice or white bread. According to Healthline, these carbohydrates are ingested quickly and have what is called a high glycemic index. They usually cause blood sugar levels to rise, which leads to elevated insulin after meals.

Refined carbs don’t provide long-lasting energy, according to Medical News Today. They tend to contain fewer minerals and vitamins than other types of carbohydrates.

What are complex carbohydrates?

Complex carbohydrates are sugar molecules that are found in long chains, according to Medline Plus. These types of carbohydrates are foods like beans and whole grains.

Unlike refined carbs, complex carbs provide longer lasting energy. Medline Plus said, “Complex carbohydrate foods provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are important to an individual’s health. The majority of carbohydrates should come from complex carbohydrates (starches) and natural sugars, rather than processed or refined sugars, which lack the vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in complex carbohydrates.

What are some simple trades you can make?

If you’re looking to eat fewer refined carbs, you can make some simple swaps that will help you eat more whole grains.

In order to make these exchanges, it is important to read the labels on the back of foods. Real Simple pointed out that foods like salad dressings and cereals often contain added sugar. Even if a food has a health halo, it is always possible that there is added sugar.

When reading food labels, look for things like refined white flour, sucrose (table sugar), and other similar ingredients. Here are some general tips you can use to find foods with no added sugars or refined carbs.

  • Instead of eating white pasta, consider switching to whole-wheat pasta.
  • Look on the back of the tomato sauce you are using. See if you can switch to a tomato sauce with no added sugar.
  • Consider switching to brown rice.
  • Watch what you drink. You may be drinking beverages with added sugars. A possible change is to drink herbal teas or put water in your juice.
  • Switch from white bread to whole wheat or whole grain bread.
  • Consider eating high-protein snacks and breakfasts instead of high-carb snacks and meals.
  • Moderate your intake of starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes, and consider eating more fiber-rich vegetables like spinach and broccoli.
  • Experiment with different types of flour instead of eating white flour. Some flours you can try are almond flour or whole wheat flour or coconut flour.

Meals with whole grains

  • Quinoa with cucumber, chickpeas, tomatoes, feta and spinach.
  • Balsamic chicken with cooked spinach and mashed cauliflower.
  • A grilled cheese on whole wheat bread accompanied by a garden salad.
  • Ground beef with brown rice, black beans, peppers, onions and lettuce.
  • Peppers stuffed with ground lamb and brown rice.
  • Lentil soup, vegetable broth, carrots, onions, celery and spinach.
  • Whole wheat pasta with mozzarella, basil, tomatoes and pesto.
  • Salmon with broccoli and baked sweet potato.

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