Smart Carbs or Dumb Carbs?

| November 25, 2010 | 1 Comment

Finally!  It seems like the low-carb wave is declining as people are starting to realize that it’s about ‘smart carbs’ not ‘no carbs’! Smart carbs are Powerfoods!

Smart Carbs are:

  • fruits and vegetables
  • beans
  • seeds
  • nuts
  • whole grains

Basically smart carbs are complex carbohydrates.  You can have carbs, as long as you choose them carefully; that is why they are called smart carbs! It’s all about balance. The body’s muscles need smart carbs as fuel and so does the brain.

Carbs that are NOT SMART:

  1. Food that is full of refined carbohydrates like sugary (even those made with honey, maple syrup etc) cakes & cookies.
  2. White bread & pasta.
  3. White rice.
  4. Bottled and canned fruits and juices.
  5. Pops/sodas and other sugar products.

They are simply empty calories with very little to no nutrition in them. IF IT’S WHITE, IT’S NOT RIGHT!

The Best Smart Carbs are: 

  • Fruits and vegetables, especially the green ones that grow above the ground like kale or dark, leafy lettuce.
  • Beans such as kidney beans and garbanzo beans.
  • Seeds including as sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  • Nuts such as almonds.
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, whole wheat bread & pasta, multi-grain cereal/bread, oatmeal and oat bran. 

Why You Need Carbs:

The body requires about 60-65% carbohydrates to feed the brain, nervous system and muscles. The predominant carbohydrate used in the body is glucose. Glucose in the blood is called blood sugar and is a major fuel source for most cells of the body. The muscles store glucose in the form of glycogen for endurance.

The brain relies on glucose to meet its energy needs. Unless the diet supplies adequate carbohydrates, the body’s metabolism switches to a starvation mode, in which body fat is burned to meet most energy needs. To fuel the brain during starvation, glucose is synthesized from amino acids obtained by the breakdown of muscles. You can see why the right kind of carbohydrates are essential for a balanced body.


The problem with understanding carbohydrates is classification.

For simple distinction, there are three categories of carbohydrates:

  • Complex – Cereal grains such as wheat, rice, rye, millet, sorghum and corn. Beans and seeds of legumes contain 40% of their weight as starch. Complex carbohydrates occur in plants as starch and fiber.

  • Simple - Sucrose, dextrose, fructose and corn syrup or anything on a label ending in -”ose.” Simple carbohydrates are referred to as sugars.

  • Refined or Processed – Sugar and white flour are highly purified materials, containing little, if any, of the nutrients found in the whole food from which the carbohydrate was prepared; therefore, they supply mainly calories. 

    Why We Don’t Eat Smart?

There has been lot of confusion about carbs which has scared some but another reason is that we don’t know how to COOK complex carbohydrates properly.

Learn 7 Ways to Avoid Gas from Beans

Learn How to Cook Quinoa

Learn all about Millet and how to cook it: Millet

It is also about smart fats, see OILS and smart proteins (vegetable fats are less clogging but again- don’t eat too much).

About Diana Herrington

I am the Founder and Author at Real Food For Life. Have been teaching cooking classes worldwide since 1982. Create original, healthy recipes and menus, which are gluten free and white sugar free. Also, the author of the GREEN means LEAN and Balance Your Body e-books. I turned a debilitating health crisis into a passion for helping others with healthy, sugar free, gluten free eating and cooking.

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Category: Nutrition, PowerFoods

Comments (1)

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  1. Andrea Gietz says:

    Excellent article, very useful and very timely – my husband is in a critical health situation and keeps asking where do I get carbs? Thank you very much for answering this vital question.

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