Even healthy foods can often contain refined carbs, which are the kind that you want to avoid. Often they are lurking in places you might not expect!
Refined carbohydrates are the kinds of carbs that are derived when grains are processed, and ultimately stripped off their nutrients and healthy benefits. When you see the term “whole grain”, it usually means that the grains are in their natural form and have not been processed.
Often, foods with refined carbohydrates do have added vitamins and minerals, in an attempt to replace the nutrients that were removed during processing. But, generally speaking, refined carbs are nutritionally empty and considered to be simple sugars.
Examples of common refined carbs include white flour, white bread, cookies, and most kinds of crackers.
Here are six different sources of refined carbs that you may not have realized:
Whole Wheat or Multi-grain Breads: Yes, it is true, it says “whole wheat” or “multigrain” on the package. They want you to think that these foods are healthy choices. But, you really need to be looking for labels that clearly state “made from 100% whole wheat” or “made from 100% multigrain.”
Otherwise, all they have to do is contain some small amount of whole wheat or multigrain to have this appear on the label. When you read the ingredients, you will note the difference.
Hard Pretzels: People reach for brown foods when they want something healthy, at least when it comes to grains. However, hard pretzels, although brown in colour, are usually made from all-purpose or enriched flour, which is typically refined. Instead of reaching for hard pretzels, find crackers that are labeled “100% whole grain” or “100% whole wheat.”
White Rice in Sushi Rolls: Sushi is considered to be a pretty healthy choice. It is low fat, often contains high amounts of healthy fatty acids, and is low cholesterol. But the types of sushi rolls that contain white rice are bringing you a surprise source of refined carbs in the form of white rice.
Instead, opt for the choices that offer brown rice, which has not been processed and still contains all of the nutritional goodness you are looking for when you are trying to make healthy choices.
Instant Oatmeal: Steel-cut oats and rolled oats are healthy choices—instant oatmeal is not. These varieties often contain tons of added sugars and flavours, which add a large amount of refined carbs into your diet.
If you need a little sweetness to your oats, opt for steel-cut or rolled oats and add some fresh fruit to give it wonderful flavour, and keep your breakfast healthy and filled with nutrients.
Croutons: Many people love this crunchy treat on top of their salad, but unless the package says that your croutons are made from 100% whole wheat bread, then they are adding refined carbs to an otherwise healthy meal.
If you really like the crunch, try topping your salad with some healthy sunflower seeds or sliced almonds instead.
Breakfast Bars: Even healthy sounding breakfast bars often contain plenty of processed ingredients and added sugars. Make sure that you are reading the labels carefully and choosing only those bars that have fewer than 5 grams of sugar in each serving, and contain at least 4 grams of fibre.
The first ingredient that you see should be “whole grain,” and there should not be a long list of ingredients that you cannot pronounce.
Keeping refined carbs out of your diet is not impossible, but important! Read labels carefully and make sure that you know what ingredients are in the foods you are eating.
SOURCES: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/surprising-foods-with-refined-carbs; http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/carbohydrates; Image courtesy of tiramisustudio / FreeDigitalPhotos.net