A preference for sweetened and refined foods seems to be a major factor in many of our diets. Even though, as a general rule, complex carbohydrates are nutritionally superior to simple sugars, there are “good” and “poor” choices to be made in either category. For example, although the carbohydrate in milk products (lactose) and that in fruits (fructose or glucose) is considered a simple sugar, these sugars are outweighed by the presence of many other important nutrients. Milk contains calcium, high-quality protein, vitamins A, D, and B12, and other nutrients as well. Fruits and vegetables are excellent food choices in terms of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber they provide.
Simple sugars are absorbed into the blood more rapidly, causing a quicker but less sustained rise in blood sugar. There is also a rapid increase in insulin secretion and a related tendency toward the formation of fat. The drop in blood sugar that follows this rapid rise isthe well-known sensation associated with returning hunger.
Making Your Choice. The following are some of the “good” carbohydrate foods from which you should choose:
Fruits and vegetables. Be sure to include those high in vitamin C and vitamin A (citrus, cantaloupe, strawberries, peaches, carrots, turnips, broccoli, spinach, and so forth). If you are trying to lose weight, baked and boiled potatoes are better than French-fried, which add calories because of the oil in which they are cooked. The skins of baked potatoes or boiled new potatoes provide fiber.
Corn. Fresh corn, grits, and cornmeal are good for you; popcorn (without salt, butter, or oil) is a filling low-calorie snack.
Legumes. Dried peas and beans provide excellent protein when eaten with grain products.
Cereals and breads. Whole grains are slightly preferred, but enriched varieties are also healthful and usually will better resist spoilage.
Rice and pasta. Brown rice may be slightly more nutritious than con-‘ vetted rice; however, converted rice is also fine. Pasta is available in many varieties, including high-protein and whole-wheat kinds.