Carbohydrates Foods – Not All Are Equal

Not all of the carbohydrates foods are created equal.  Some can wreak havoc with our bodies, and some are incredibly beneficial.  The high potassium foods are the best of the carbohydrates foods. High caloric density, processed carbohydrates are among the worst.

The high caloric density processed foods have quick absorbing carbohydrates that cause a spike in blood sugar and then a quick fall-off that occurs about 2 hours after eating them.  This causes the typical let-down feeling and hungry feeling 2 hours after a meal high in that type of carbohydrate. The government push for lots of carbohydrates foods began several years before the increase in diabetes and obesity began in the US. The emphasis away from fats and toward carbs resulted in a lot of high caloric density carbohydrates being eaten. Although the cause of the increase in obesity and diabetes is probably related to several factors, one wonders how much is due to this shift in eating habits.

The procedure of making food into a processed food is done by grinding the natural food into fine particles. After that, the food is sold as flour. Or the particles are suspended or dissolved in liquid and sold as a drink. Or the particles are bound together and sold as a solid product. Because the food is still fine particles, when it hits our stomach, the food falls apart quickly and is absorbed quickly which leads to the blood sugar spike. In non-processed food the starch and sugar are bound, and take longer to release, giving a more gradual absorption like a rolling hill instead of a spike. Of course, each plant is slightly different, so the binding of the starch and sugar is tighter in some foods than others. This is why the glycemic index (the measure of how quickly the food gets into our blood stream) is different for different foods.

The processed carbohydrates foods are like charcoal ground into a powder and suspended in air. Light a match and it all burns at once (for charcoal, in a violent explosion).  The non-processed food is like a charcoal briquette, slower to light and slower to burn.

Another disadvantage of processed food is that the processing also adds sodium which helps to preserve the food, but detracts from the health value.  High sodium is associated with high blood pressure, and increased stroke and heart disease. Although everyone needs some sodium, you don't want too much. The Institute of Medicine recommends 1.5 grams a day of sodium, but no more than 2.3 grams.  To counteract the adverse health effects of sodium, potassium is needed. If you take in a ratio of 3 or more grams of  potassium for every gram of sodium, you will significantly lower blood pressure, resulting in less heart disease and stroke. You also will reduce your bone loss as you age, and reduce your chance of kidney stones.

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