For those on Keto diets or even the intermittent fasters amongst us – carbs are often seen as “the devil” due to their effect on blood sugar and their ability to knock you out of fat burning ketosis.
While I would agree that all high GL carbs should be avoided like white bread, ice-cream, popcorn etc, there is definitely a place for some carbs in your diet.
Below are my favourite 7 carbs. You should consider integrating these into your diet for the health benefits they provide:
1. Berries (Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries & Strawberries)
In terms of overall carb levels the above berries rank very low. 1/3 cup of each of Strawberries has only 4g carbs, Blackberries and Raspberries have 5g, and Blueberries 7g.
Everyone knows that berries are packed full of antioxidants (blackberries and raspberries have the most, then blueberries, then strawberries), and they are also low on the GI/GL scale.
I haven’t even mentioned the taste yet which is awesome and can really brighten up your day!
2. Pulses/Beans (Chickpeas, Lentils, Split Peas, Kidney Beans, Pinto Beans, Navy Beans, Butter Beans etc)
If you are after a cheap, healthy, full of fibre food that also feeds your good gut bacteria, and is low on the GL/GI side, plus packed with protein, you would do well to beat Pulses/Beans.
I opt for the tinned variety as they are easier to cook quickly and have been soaking in a liquid to reduce the lectins and other anti-nutrients present in this class of food. Be sure to empty the tin into a colander and rinse very well before heating. This will remove those nasty lectins etc!
Beetroot is a fantastic source of folate, manganese, potassium and other nutrients including nitrates (which can improve your athletic endurance). Betalain in beetroot is also a great anti-inflammatory. Opt for the fresh variety where possible and boil and roast for a real treat. Some tinned varieties are packed with sugar so beware.
1/4 cup of home cooked pumpkin only contains 3g of carbs. Beta carotene and other vitamins present in pumpkin help in regeneration of cells. It’s also rich in potassium which lowers the risk of high blood pressure (a major precursor to alzheimers). Zinc found in pumpkins boosts the immune system and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Dietary fibre helps in digestion and aids in prevention of heart diseases, cancer, and low blood sugar levels. Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) aids in maintaining hormonal balance and also helps relieve stress.
5. Sweet Potato / Yam
Unlike normal potatoes – sweet potatoes count towards your 5 a day! Sweet potatoes are a source of four essential micronutrients: vitamin C, thiamin, potassium and manganese, which between them have a whole range of properties that our bodies need to keep us ticking over.
The health benefits of tomatoes include eye care, good stomach health, and reduced blood pressure. They provide relief from diabetes, skin problems, and urinary tract infections. Furthermore, they improve digestion, stimulate blood circulation, reduce cholesterol levels, improve fluid balance, protect the kidneys, detoxify the body, prevent premature aging, and reduce inflammation. Tomatoes consist of a large number of antioxidants may help fight different types of cancer (including lycopene in cooked tomatoes). They are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals and exert a protective
effect against cardiovascular diseases.
Lemons along with berries, grapefruit and tomatoes are the lowest GI/GL fruits – meaning they don’t spike your blood sugar. Lemons are high in heart-healthy vitamin C and several beneficial plant
compounds that may lower cholesterol. The vitamin C and citric acid in lemons help you absorb non-heme iron from plants (like spinach) which may prevent anemia. Some plant chemicals found in lemons have also been shown to prevent cancer in animal studies.
So don’t shy away from the above carb sources just because your afraid of spiking your blood sugar. The health benefits imparted from the above 7 carb foods will keep you in tip top shape.