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10 Carbohydrate-rich foods, and good for your health

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Eating sweet is not necessarily bad for your health! Here are a few foods that are high in carbohydrates but full of good things that will give you a boost of energy.

The glucose that circulates in the blood comes mostly from the carbohydrates (sugars) you eat. With diabetes, your body does not use the energy that circulates as glucose in the blood properly, which can cause your blood glucose (sugar level) to rise above normal levels.

A person with diabetes does not have to eliminate all carbohydrates from their diet: carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body and the only fuel for the brain. Instead, they should closely monitor the amount they eat and spread it out over at least three meals to control their blood glucose levels.

Carbohydrates make up all the sugars present in food. They include sugars, starch and dietary fibre.

Sugar can be present naturally in food or added:

  • Natural sugars: they are found naturally in milk and its substitutes, starchy foods, legumes, fruits and vegetables (in smaller quantities) and their juices, etc.
  • Added sugars: These are added to cookies, sweetened beverages, candies, cakes, and other commercial products.
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Whether carbohydrates are from natural sources or added, they are converted to glucose to provide energy to the body’s cells. Therefore, they all have an impact on blood glucose levels.

1. Quinoa

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Unlike rice and wheat, quinoa is not a grass. It is a “pseudo-cereal” like buckwheat. Quinoa is the fruit of a plant of the same family as spinach and beets. Quinoa is best cooked more, it shines in your salads and if you are looking for gluten-free food, it is the perfect food. On the nutritional side, it contains a large quantity of high quality proteins, polyunsaturated fatty acids and many micronutrients. Thanks to its nutritional composition, somewhat different from that of other cereals, and its unique taste, its inclusion in the diet brings variety to the menu.

Quinoa is composed of 70% carbohydrates, 15% protein, little fat, fiber and many minerals such as iron, manganese and copper. Quinoa contains more protein than cereals and above all it contains all the essential amino acids which are partly lacking in the latter. Quinoa is therefore particularly recommended as part of a vegetarian diet.

On the other hand, quinoa is gluten-free. People with gluten intolerance can therefore consume it and thus replace wheat.

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Quinoa is a non-negligible source of fiber, which makes it possible to consider it as a food for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. It normalizes glucose, insulin and cholesterol levels.

2. Apples

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To enjoy the benefits of the apple, it is best to eat the fruit with its peel. In fact, the antioxidant power of the apple peel is 2 to 6 times higher than that of the flesh. One portion corresponds to one apple.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away… it’s not for nothing that the nutritional qualities of apples have been praised for a long time. Rich in antioxidants and soluble fibre, this fruit has a number of health benefits. Here are the main ones, to convince even the most reluctant not to deprive themselves of them this winter.

Apples won’t replace your toothbrush. But biting into them stimulates the production of saliva in the mouth, which lowers bacteria levels and reduces the risk of cavities.

The soluble fibres found in apples bind to the fats in the intestines. The result: lower “bad” cholesterol, healthy arteries, and a healthy heart. 

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Whether you’re bothered by constipation or diarrhea, apple fibre can help. Either they absorb excess water in the intestine and thus stimulate the digestion process, or they absorb water from the stool to slow down the intestine. This benefit can be particularly useful in cases of irritable bowel syndrome, a condition characterized by constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating.

3. Sweet potatoes

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 Sweet potatoes are tubers of more or less elongated shape, with a very thin skin. The flesh of this vegetable varies from white to purple, passing through all shades of orange. While all varieties are edible, it is generally agreed that sweet potatoes from orange to purple are the tastiest and also contain the most nutrients. In Quebec markets, several varieties of American sweet potatoes can be found: covington, beauregard, evangeline and marasaki.

The sweet potato is not related to the potato, despite its name. It is very rich in pro-vitamin A (or beta-carotene). It also provides long-lasting energy, thanks to the starch it contains.

Sweet potatoes are used in many recipes, but they can also be used as an accompaniment for your roasted meat and fish. In this case, they can be cooked in water or steamed, in the oven or in a frying pan after cutting them into slices or pieces.

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The peel is edible and contains many nutrients, so it is best to keep it, after having brushed it well. And even if you decide not to eat the skin after cooking, you will have gained some of its benefits by keeping it on the vegetable during cooking.

4. Oats

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The term oats comes from the Latin avena which only appeared in the French language during the 12th century.

Of the grass family, the oat is native to Asia and is said to have been cultivated by man since about 2500 years BC in Central Europe. Its harvest was then mainly used to feed farm animals, on which it had a stimulating action.

It is in Indian Ayurvedic medicine that it is used for the first time in phytotherapy to treat opium addiction. Then, its therapeutic use appeared in Europe in the 17th century to treat nervous disorders, rheumatism and certain diseases such as scabies or leprosy.

Very rich in fiber, and in particular beta-glucan, oats are very filling and effective in boosting lazy transit. In fact, it is this beta-glucan that is responsible for many of the health benefits of oats.

Very well endowed in digestible and good quality proteins, oats is one of the cereals particularly interesting for vegetarians and vegans. Its proteins are also rich in triptophan, a precursor of serotonin, a hormone known to regulate mood and prevent depression.

Finally, oats are rich in complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, which raise blood sugar levels slightly but durably, making them satisfying and interesting for slimming candidates.

Oats are rich in iron, phosphorus, selenium, silica and magnesium, making them one of the cereals with the highest mineral density.

Its content of B group vitamins, which contribute to the maintenance of nerve cells, is interesting.

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Finally, oats contain flavonoids, known to limit cardiovascular risks.

5. Red Beans

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Red beans, like all pulses, are among the richest vegetable foods in terms of protein, while being fat-free, unlike those from animal sources.

These two characteristics make them an important health asset, contributing to a balanced diet at a lower cost.

The kidney bean is an annual plant that can be bushy or climbing. Each pod contains 4 to 12 seeds. The red bean appreciates light, rich, deep, aerated and well-drained soils as well as a warm and temperate climate.

The red bean is rich in potassium and low in sodium, which naturally gives it diuretic virtues.

The red bean is also:

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  • Source of vitamin B9 (cell renewal, very interesting for pregnant women for the development of the fetus, and in growing children, as well as for convalescent people)
  • Source of potassium (nervous system, muscle function, blood pressure)
  • Source of iron (cognitive function, red blood cells, immune system, energy, fatigue reduction)
  • Source of phosphorus (energy, bone and dental health, cell membranes)
  • Source of fibre (regulation of intestinal transit, satiety)

6. Chickpeas

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Chickpeas belong to the family of pulses1. It combines many nutritional benefits: a high protein and carbohydrate intake, low fat content, good quality, and a high fibre and vitamin B9 content. An essential ingredient in couscous or traditional hummus, it can be used to create tasty recipes from aperitif to dessert.

Chickpeas are part of the family of pulses (lentils, split peas, kidney beans…) long considered as “the protein of the poor”. Its many assets make it a partner for our health today.

Cooked chickpeas provide 147 kcal/100 g. It is a good contributor to the contribution of energy, vegetable proteins, carbohydrates in the form of starch, fibres, several minerals (phosphorus, copper, manganese…) and vitamin B9. The chickpea contains polyphenols including flavonoids with antioxidant properties, as well as phytosterols and saponins which participate in the prevention of diseases such as cardiovascular diseases or certain cancers.

Cooked chickpeas provide 147 kcal/100 g, once rehydrated during cooking.

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A portion (200 g cooked*) unseasoned provides 294 kcal or 14.7% of the reference energy intake for a typical adult (2000 kcal/day).

7. Blueberries

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The blueberry is a small fruit native to North America, where it grows wild at ground level; cultivated blueberries grow on shrubs of varying heights. Blueberry muffins are obviously very popular, but this underestimated ingredient deserves to be featured more often. Blueberry muffins are increasingly considered a superfood because they’re packed with antioxidants and vitamins.

The antioxidants found in blueberries have many health benefits, including scientific studies on the effects on the cardiovascular system. Blueberries have been found to improve cholesterol balance by lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol. Regular consumption of blueberries also promotes good blood pressure.

There is increasing interest in research on the effects of blueberries on cognitive function. In addition to improving memory, blueberries appear to slow the development of cognitive disorders due to aging. It is believed that this action is due to the antioxidants present in the fruit, which reduce the damage caused to cells by oxygen.

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Blueberries are increasingly considered a superfood, especially because they contain many antioxidants, vitamins C and K, iron and manganese. It is also low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol. Whether the blueberry is fresh or frozen, its nutrients remain intact. Cooking at temperatures above 175°C (350°F) reduces enzyme activity and the vitamin and mineral content.

8. Dates

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Under its beautiful amber colors, the date reveals a tasty flesh that will delight the taste buds. Whether dry or fresh, it is always not only delicious, but also easy to eat! Depending on the variety, its flesh is more or less soft and sweet. As a small fruit with exceptional energetic qualities, the date evokes the refinement of oriental culinary traditions.

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  • A date weighs 10 g on average. Depending on the variety, the shape of the date varies and its flesh is more or less soft, but always full of taste. The skin of the date is amber and sometimes translucent.
  • The fresh dates are picked as soon as they are ripe and are marketed still attached to the branch. Mostly consumed in the producing countries, they are still little present on the French markets.
  • Dried dates have started to dehydrate on the tree. Healthy fruits are picked with their branches.
  • Extra dry dates are ideal for snacking or for a gourmet and energetic break at any time of the day.
  • Fresh or dried, chopped, stuffed or in fruit paste, the date lends itself to all culinary preparations. Give free rein to your imagination.

9. The corn

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Corn is an herbaceous plant that is grown as a cereal for its starchy kernels. Botanically, it is a fruit, culinary it is a vegetable, and in terms of its cultivation, it is a cereal!

Corn is therefore all-purpose, and this can be seen in its particular composition, since corn contains nearly 12 g of carbohydrates per 100 g, which is about 2.5 times the average amount of carbohydrates found in vegetables, while remaining much less rich in carbohydrates than classic “starchy” foods.

Nutritional information on corn is mostly available for cooked corn (since it is not eaten raw). It is a plant that provides appreciable quantities of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B5 (with more than 13% of the nutritional reference values for 100 g), folates or vitamin B9 (with more than 11% of the NRVs), vitamin B3 and B6 (nearly 10% of the NRVs for each).

On the mineral side, potassium and phosphorus are in a good position, with nearly 11% of the NRVs covered for each.

At the level of antioxidants, corn naturally contains carotenoids, in particular lutein and zeaxanthin, which accumulate in the macula and retina, which could confer a not negligible asset in the prevention of certain diseases of the eye.

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The phenolic content of yellow corn varies from single to double depending on the variety. These compounds include gallic acid, vanillin, vanilic acid, protocatechic acid, ferulic acid and p-coumaric acid.

10. Dried Grapes

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Even if some dried fruits have a bad reputation because they would make us gain weight, if we include raisins in our breakfast, we will get many benefits and extra vitamins and minerals.

Raisins are used for much more than just fighting constipation. Even if you don’t believe it, these little gifts of nature are a treasure trove of health benefits.

Dehydrated fruits such as dried figs or dates, for example, undergo a delicate drying process that reduces their water content to leave only the most powerful nutrients.

This dark color is already an indication of their energetic power and the high antioxidant content found in their delicious pulp.

If we consume them in a balanced way and especially during the first hours of the day, our body will thank us for it.

If you accompany your breakfast with this type of dried fruit in a good cup of oats, you will face the day knowing that you are taking care of your cardiovascular health.

When you eat raisins, something incredible happens: they swell because of the insoluble fiber they contain.

This natural process promotes the movement of our intestines, while purifying them, and mobilizes the stool for proper elimination.

In addition, when we suffer from diarrhea, these soluble fibers absorb the liquid contained in the stool to, little by little, heal these processes, and keep us well nourished to fight against these states of fragility.

About the author

Latoya Adams