Food provides carbohydrates, fat and protein that the body uses for energy. Carbohydrates are found in grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, milk and dairy products. Too many carbohydrates — whether starchy or sweet — can cause excess glucose to circulate in the blood plasma (aka hyperglycemia) and damage your body. If carbohydrates are not used by the body, they will be stored as fat.
Just as a car needs gas to run, blood glucose (or blood sugar) is the fuel that our bodies run on. Glucose is vital to life itself. Your body can make glucose from all foods that you eat, but some foods are better sources of glucose than others. Carbohydrate-containing foods are the best and most available sources of glucose.
When someone has diabetes, their body does not use blood glucose the way that it should. Everyone can help their body use glucose better by eating consistent amounts of carbohydrate containing foods at regular intervals.
The best carbohydrates are nutrient dense but low in calories. You might describe nutrient dense foods as “healthy,” since they provide vitamins and minerals. Examples are fresh or frozen fruits, milk, plain yogurt and non-starchy vegetables like squash, leafy greens, cauliflower, tomatoes, green beans, radishes, carrots, peppers, cabbage and broccoli. Non-starchy vegetables are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates (which is helpful for diabetics.)
Starchy vegetables are higher in carbohydrates but still provide beneficial fiber and essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For those who are diabetic, a serving of starchy vegetables is 1/3 cup. Examples include cooked dry beans, sweet potatoes, winter squash, corn, white potatoes and peas.
Whole grain foods are complex carbohydrates and are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Examples are brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, bulgur, rolled oats, barley and high-fiber ready-to-eat cereals.
Refined, high-calorie carbohydrates typically are less healthy because they offer little nutrients. These foods often have added sugar and more fat (both of which add calories). Bagels, muffins, cookies, white pasta, white bread, white tortillas, white rice, pretzels, pie, cake doughnuts, most crackers, and many ready-to-eat cereals should be consumed only occasionally.
If you want to learn more about carbohydrates, plan to participate in the last session of Dining with Diabetes on Nov. 19 at the Winfield Public Library, 605 College St. For more information, call (620) 221-5450.
Upcoming K-State Research and Extension Events
Now on Sale — Friends of Cowley County Extension — Raffle tickets are available for purchase at Cowley County Extension or Valley Coop locations.
Nov. 19 — Dining with Diabetes, Winfield Public Library, 5:30-7:30 p.m. $7/session; scholarships available; call 221-5450 to register.
Nov. 23 — Cowley County Extension Council Election, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Baden Square Community Center, 700 Gary Street, Winfield; open to all Cowley County residents, ages 18 and older.
Nov. 23 — Fall for Extension Fundraising Dinner, Live & Silent Auction, 6 p.m. SOLD OUT.
Becky Reid is the family and consumer sciences agent for K-State Research and Extension, Cowley County. She can be reached at 221-5450 or (620) 441-4565.