Natural carbs provide energy and nutrients
Chances are, you're familiar with the term "carbs."
If you've attempted to lose weight before, you've probably come across low-carb options or may have heard someone telling you to cut out carbs.
But what is a carb?
A carbohydrate is one of three macronutrients -- the other two being protein and fat. To make things simple, you can think of a carb as sugar.
Too many carbohydrates in the diet -- in recent years from added sugar or high fructose corn syrup -- has been a major contributor in the onset of obesity and diabetes in many Americans.
In addition, carbs take the blame for issues such as weight gain, fatigue, mood swings, and poor sleep. But this doesn't mean that all carbs are bad for you. Many of them, in fact, are not only healthy, but necessary for optimal health.
These five natural carbohydrate options will give you a great supply of energy and a wide range nutrients.
Sweet Potatoes. The sweet potato packs a punch as far as nutrients and flavor. It has a lower glycemic index than a white or red potato, so it doesn't disturb blood sugar levels nearly as much. You'll get good amounts of beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, and Vitamins B and C. Slice up a sweet potato into thin slices and sauté in a covered pan with a bit of coconut oil and season with rosemary for a great alternative to regular potatoes.
Kale. Although kale sounds like a boring vegetable, it's actually quite versatile. It can be eaten raw in salads, added to soups, blended into smoothies, or even baked into chips. This green powerhouse has plenty of anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer phytonutrients while only yielding around 35 calories per cup.
Berries. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cranberries are packed with antioxidants and add some fun color to your diet. There are too many phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals to list but a good variety of these powerhouse fruits will help fight inflammation, disease, and the signs of aging. Steer clear of sugary juices that contain these fruits and eat fresh organic as much as possible. Have a half cup of mixed berries with a hard-boiled egg as a snack or simply blend them into a nutritious smoothie.
Spinach. Spinach is a wonderful green leafy carbohydrate that is very low in calories but extremely high in nutrients. It's also naturally sweet tasting, so you can add it to smoothies or use it as base for salads for added flavor. Spinach contains many antioxidants and nutrients that protect the body from free radical damage and inflammation. The next time you make a smoothie, add a large handful of spinach and see how it tastes. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Cauliflower. This is one "white" food that we actually recommend. Cauliflower contains nutrients that support detox while containing several anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer nutrients as well. It's high in Vitamins C and K and phytonutrients that fight oxidative stress. Grate a head of cauliflower into a rice-like consistency and sauté in a pan with a bit of coconut oil. Season with sea salt and pepper and eat in place of white rice.
Limiting processed foods and consuming more of these healthy carbohydrates will greatly improve your diet and your outlook on carbs.
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• Joshua Steckler is the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning, and nutrition. Contact him at PushFitnessTraining.com.