Benefits of Carbohydrates
Your Personal Powerhouses

Use the Benefits of Carbohydrates to your advantage. Should you be limiting your carbs? How? Find out.

benefits of carbohydrates: energy, vitamins & minerals, fiber

Carbohydrates do so many, many good things for your body.

Let's break up the many benefits of carbs into three sections.


Carbohydrates pack ENERGY.

Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for your body. In fact, with different kinds of energy available, your body will chose glucose from carbs before anything else. Even more - it's pretty much the only energy your brain and nervous system will use.

All carbs eventually get broken down to sugars. You turn them into glucose (which is an absolute must for your brain). Do you remember what foods are carbs? Everything that isn't a protein or fat - So that means all fruits and vegetables, all grains, all beans and legumes, and dairy.

Glucose is blood sugar. It's the easiest thing to be metabolized into energy. Your body does two things with glucose. It uses it right away for energy or it stores it for later use. Where does it get stored - in the liver and muscles.

Carbohydrates pack VITAMINS & MINERALS.

None of us wants to get low on vitamins or minerals. One of the fantastic benefits of carbohydrates are the vitamins and minerals they bring to your body. Take a look.

Vitamins are used in metabolism, making red blood cells, carrying oxygen in our blood.


Vitamin A - dark colored fruit, dark leafy vegetables
E - avocado, dark green vegetables, papaya, mango, seeds, nuts, wheat germ
K - dark green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, cereals
Biotin - cereals, milk, nuts
Folate - asparagus, broccoli, beets, beans, dark green vegetables, oranges, peanut butter, wheat germ
B3 -avocado, beans, nuts, potato
Pantothenic acid - avocado, cabbage, broccoli, kale, beans, milk, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cereals
B1 - beans, nuts, seeds, peas, whole grains
B6 - avocado, banana, beans, nuts, whole grains
B12 - milk
C - cabbage, cruciferous vegetables, citrus fruit, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes

Source for Benefits of Carbohydrates:


Iron - carries oxygen in our blood:

(listed in order starting with the most iron) soybeans, peanuts, beans, lentils, tofu (which is made from soybeans), asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes, cherries, apricots, garlic, beets, chinese cabbage, leeks, brussel sprouts, blackberries, broccoli, tomatoes, grapefruit, kale, corn, peaches, blueberries, nuts, onions, pears, potatoes, summer squash, cherries, okra, cauliflower, radishes, apples, tangerines, grapes, mangoes, popcorn, limes, endive, lemons, grapefruit, yogurt, papaya,

Magnesium - builds bones, releases energy from our muscles:

(listed in order starting with the most magnesium) nuts & seeds, grains, dark leafy vegetables, beans, vegetables, fruits

Selenium - helps immune system:

(listed in order starting with the most selenium) sunflower seeds, grains, garlic, cheese, nuts, asparagus, broccoli, peas, tomatoes, corn, oranges, mushrooms. winter squash, mangos, beets, kale, onions, applesauce, peaches, radishes, cabbage, okra, blueberries, carrots, kiwi, apples, apricots, pears, figs, beets, grapes, lemons & limes, grapefruit, olives, gingerroot, cherries,

Source for Benefits of Carbohydrates:
USDA National Database (sort by nutrient and food groups)

Carbohydrates CAN PACK Fiber.

  • If I could only make one recommendation for eating healthy and losing weight, it would be this - concentrate on eating foods high in fiber. Let's see why . . .

Benefits of Fiber:

  • Feel full
  • Eat less
  • Prevent constipation
  • Prevent colon polyps which can cause colon cancer
  • Removes toxins which can prevent cancer
  • Lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes
  • Assists digestion by speeding food through your digestive tract
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Regulates blood sugar-slows the absorption of sugar
  • May lower blood pressure

Carbohydrates with fiber - (listed in order starting with the most fiber) beans, seeds, nuts, cornmeal, winter squash, peas, potatoes with skins, apricots, gooseberries, edamame, turnip greens, broccoli, figs, kiwi, blueberries, currants, tomatoes, coconut, oranges, corn, whole grains, asparagus, beets, spinach, cherries, grapefruit, carrots (fresh), tangerines, collard greens, plantains, brussel sprouts, bamboo shoots, peaches, turnips, onions, garlic, cranberries, mushrooms, mangos, papayas, kale, celery, apples, okra, cauliflower, peppers, radishes, figs, chinese cabbage, grapes, lime & lemon juice, endive

So if the Benefits of Carbohydrates are so good, why do we think they're bad?

You probably have heard bad things about insulin and carbohydrates. One of the things insulin does is regulate your blood sugar. That's good. But eating too many carbs, especially ones quickly turned into glucose (like white flour, white potatoes, and corn), dumps too much insulin into your system.

After years of doing that to yourself, it causes problems. It can actually lead to diabetes.

Some people are genetically prone to insulin resistance. I deal with this, and I can get hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) very easily. Low blood sugar causes irritability and exhaustion. My body doesn't react well when too many carbs are present. I can reduce the impact of carbs by eating protein and fat at the same time. Your body doesn't react with a lot of insulin to protein and fat, so those foods will temper my insulin when I eat carbohydrates.

When your body is flooded with too much insulin, it can also make you crave carbohydrates soon afterward. Not good when you're trying to lose weight and keep it off. It can also mess with your body's natural function of "feeling full." I've recently read two books that are very helpful. The Carbohydrates Addict Diet by Dr. Rachael F. Heller and Dr. Richard F. Hellerand The Insulin Resistance Diet by by Cheryle Hart and Mary Kay Grossman.

What should you do?

  • First, try to eat carbohydrates that are full of fiber.

  • Second, eat other types of foods with carbohydrates - protein, fat, and vegetables.

Benefits of Carbohydrates for Athletes

I used to like to exercise first thing in the morning, then get ready for the day and eat breakfast. That's not really a good idea. When you sleep, you are fasting. That's why our first meal of the day is called "break" "fast." We are literally breaking an 8 hour fast. It's much better to eat in the morning before you exercise. Otherwise, your body will start to break down your muscle for energy. That's not what we want.

Eating some carbohydrates right after you exercise will build your glycogen storage back up for your next workout. Yes, exercising can energize you, but if you're not eating right, you can feel drained instead. Our son is a long-distance runner, and it's important that he replenished the glucose in his muscles for the rest of the day and for his next run. Getting those carbs within 30-60 minutes after a workout is proven to make a difference.

Some athletes workout for so long (bikers, marathon runners, triathletes), that they actually need to get some carbs WHILE they exercise. I found a great book with recipes for these athletes - Feed Zone Portables by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim. My son likes the homemade cinnamon apple rice cakes. Today he's riding his bike to town, doing a hill running workout, then riding back. So he's taking a couple apple rice cakes with him, which is smart.

Let the Benefits of Carbohydrates guide you in enjoying carbs. Learn to choose wisely.

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