Carbs and Fats Defined
By: Dr. Iris I. Mercado
Carbohydrates include grains like oats, wheat (bread) and rice, starchy vegetables, all fruits and other vegetables like carrots and tomatoes. They can be simple (sugar, sweets and fruits) or complex (starchy vegetables, rice, bread) which can affect the different ways the body uses them. Some vegetables like potatoes, plantains, corn, peas and sweet potatoes are classified as starchy vegetable due to their high content of complex carbohydrates. Some starchy vegetables are harder to digest and absorb because of their resistant starch content. Fruits, especially juices, can have a strong effect on raising blood sugar. You can also find carbohydrates as whole grains and/or enriched/refine grains. Products made with whole grains affect blood sugar differently than enriched/refined ones because the presence of fiber delays digestion and absorption of their sugars into the blood.
Which fats should you avoid and which ones to use that are more beneficial. To better understand, recognize and remember their differences, let’s divided them in two groups: Good and Bad fats. The bad fats include Saturated Fat, which is solid at room temperature and from animal sources, and Trans Fat like margarine and shortening. The good ones are Unsaturated Fat, which are liquid at room temperature and from vegetable sources. Saturated Fats are mainly found in red meat, poultry, dairy products, and certain tropical oils like palm oil. Unsaturated Fats are those found in corn and other vegetable oils, fish oils, canola and olive oil, nuts and seeds.
Fats have different effects on your health. For example, Saturated Fats increase the risk of coronary heart disease because they impact the blood levels of cholesterol in the body, whereas Unsaturated Fats do not. Clinical studies have shown that Trans Fats are even worse when it comes to these blood cholesterol levels. But keep in mind, that while the type of fat matters, cutting down on total fat, especially Saturated Fat, is still the single most important dietary step you can take to protect your heart and control your weight.
Bad Carbs – Refined grains: white bread, white rice, crackers, rolls, bagels, and all-purpose flour; Sweets: candy, donuts, muffins (even bran muffins); Sweet drinks: sodas, 100% fruit juices.
Good Fats – Avocado; Oils: Canola, olive, corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, peanut, fish; Seeds/Nuts: sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, cashews.
Bad Fats – Animal fat: red meat, poultry with the skin, pork, bacon, sausages, lard; Whole milk/dairy products: cream (ice, sour and whipped), cheese, butter; Hydrogenated vegetable oils: shortening and margarine; Mayonnaise, creamy salad dressings; Palm oil (in commercial baked goods).