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Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs – What You Need to Know

Not all carbs are created equal when it comes to diabetes prevention, weight loss and blood sugar control. Being mindful of ‘good’ carbs versus ‘bad’ carbs can help regulate blood sugar, insulin, cravings and hunger.

What are Good Carbs?

Good carbs have these qualities:

  • High in fiber – Fiber slows digestion, preventing blood sugar spikes. Options: whole grains, beans, vegetables, some fruits.
  • Low glycemic index – They do not rapidly raise blood sugar levels. Choose less-ripe bananas, stone fruits, berries.
  • Packed with nutrients – Good carbs provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. See: sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, tomatoes.
  • Satiating – They fill you up and curb appetite due to fiber and volume. See: oatmeal, quinoa, leafy greens.

What are Bad Carbs?

Bad carbs share these traits:

  • Refined and processed – Milling and processing removes fiber, vitamins and minerals. Avoid: white breads, pastries, chips.
  • Full of added sugars – Sugars like sucrose, corn syrup and cane juice spike blood sugar quickly. Limit: candy, soda, desserts.
  • Low in nutrients – Products made with refined grains offer empty calories and no nutrition. Say no to: crackers, pretzels, baked goods.
  • Addictive – Processed carbs are designed to be hyper-palatable. This promotes overeating. Be cautious of: granola bars, frozen meals, fast food.

Aim to get majority of daily carbohydrate intake from good, nutritious whole food sources. Limit bad carbs and added sugars which cause blood sugar peaks and valleys, inflammation, cravings, and diabetes risk. Focus on fiber for satiety and blood sugar regulation.

Need help making good choices? I’m happy to help.

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  1. Alice Gerard on January 18, 2024 at 7:00 pm

    This is helpful. I am working to avoid processed foods and gluten. Also dairy. Hoping to make my digestive system happy. So far, so good.

    • Karen Admin on January 18, 2024 at 9:51 pm

      Those are good things to eliminate Alice, especially if you have digestive issues. I hope you get to the bottom of your issues.

  2. Lily Leung on January 18, 2024 at 7:28 pm

    I seldom do frozen dinners, pretzels, crackers, granola bars. I can’t remember when I had a donut. But I do love white scented rice and muffins. But I do half whole wheat/half white and cut down sugar in my muffins.

    • Karen Admin on January 18, 2024 at 9:52 pm

      One of the good things you can do with rice is to cook and cool it before you eat it. Even if you reheat it to eat, it becomes a resistant starch and has less of an impact on your blood sugar.

  3. Martha on January 19, 2024 at 8:26 am

    What detailed information on good and bad! My diet is more fruits, vegetables and rice lately. I love have a banana or oatmeal for breakfast because they are easy on my stomach. I’m going to print out your lists and post on the inside of my cupboard for reminders!

    • Karen Admin on January 19, 2024 at 9:59 am

      Happy to help Martha

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