Carbohydrates (carbs for short) are mainly used for energy. They fall into two groups, simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates include sugars, fruits (especially juices) and white starchy foods such as white bread and white rice. These foods are digested easily and so are fast sources of energy. When you eat simple carbohydrates, the level of sugar in your blood goes up quickly but is held within a normal range by insulin. Complex carbohydrates which include whole grains, legumes (beans and peas) and vegetables, raise the blood sugar levels more slowly and generally provide more fibre, vitamins and minerals than simple carbohydrates. 

Carbohydrates are the most affordable foods and form the backbone of the diet. Generally speaking, complex carbohydrates are a better choice than simple carbohydrates. The body handles carbohydrates best when they are spread throughout the day, so you should try to include them in every meal. Complex carbohydrates are a healthy source of energy. Main sources of complex carbohydrates: wholegrains, beans and peas,vegetables and fruits.

Balancing carbohydrates

Getting started

  1. Eat carbohydrates with every meal. They are affordable, nutritious and satisfying.
  2. Eat some fruits and vegetables every single day.
  3. Choose whole grain breads and cereals. Canada’s Food Guide recommends that at least half of your grain products every day should be whole grain. Choose more complex carbohydrates, like brown or wild rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, oatmeal, whole grain cereals, barley and vegetables.
  4. Work up to eating 7 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Frozen vegetables are a healthy alternative to fresh ones and keep longer.
  5. Limit simple carbohydrates by reducing consumption of fruit juices, soft drinks and other sweetened drinks, desserts, candies and sugar.
  6. Lower-cost carbohydrates include oatmeal, rice, bread, and fruits and vegetables in season. Small produce stands and farmers’ markets sometimes offer lower prices for fruits and vegetables.

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