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A simple guide to healthy carbs

We followed Lena Beal, M.S., RD, LD, a therapeutic dietitian at Piedmont’s Fuqua Heart Center, on one of her popular grocery store tours and got the scoop on the best options in every section of the supermarket. Her tips will help you enjoy your favorite foods while still meeting your health-related goals.

With the prevalence of low-carb diets, it is no wonder that many people believe grains should be avoided. However, Beal explains that whole grain bread, cereal and other carbohydrates can actually be nutritious because they provide B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, antioxidants and fiber. Her advice on choosing healthier carbohydrates?

Read the ingredients label and select:

  • Whole wheat flour or 100 percent whole wheat as the first ingredient. (Ingredients listed first make up the highest percentage of the product.)
  • Labels that indicate the product has fiber and whole grain, such as a logo from the USDA.
  • Products without artificial coloring or preservatives. Caramel coloring is often added to make products appear brown.
  • Instant oatmeal or cereals without excessive fat, sugar and calories.

In addition to bread, cereal and pasta, fruits and vegetables are also considered carbohydrates. Fresh produce can be a healthier carbohydrate option, especially if you are trying to lose weight.

“Carbohydrates need to be healthful because we are going to eat the most calories from this food group,” she says. “Aim for two to three servings of whole grains every day.”

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