With refined foods being such a hot topic for today’s nutrition experts, many people know that refined starches are “bad” for you… but why? Well, refined carbohydrates start as whole plants, but are then processed in such a way that most nutrients are stripped out! The body can then process these foods very quickly, causing blood sugar spikes (and crashes!), and typically halting the digestion of other nutrient-rich foods.
Most often, you’ll see refined carbohydrates in the form of:
- Sugar – granulated sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, and typically anything with the words “syrup” or “sweetener”
- “Bleached” Grains – white flour, white rice, white pasta, couscous
- Starches – if it has the word “starch” in the title, i.e. corn starch, modified food starch
Even knowing the key words to look out for, refined carbohydrates can often be hidden in foods that are seemingly healthy! Here’s a list of common foods that are perceived to be healthy, but in reality are laden with these nutrient-stripped refined carbs…
- Sushi – The raw ingredients in sushi, like salmon and cucumbers, make sushi an incredibly healthy meal; it’s the white rice that surrounds these ingredients that should be avoided. The next time you’re out enjoying a spicy salmon roll, try ordering it with brown rice, instead!
- Wheat or Multigrain Bread – Certain breads may be doing a bit of false advertising! When purchasing bread, make sure to check that it says “100% Whole Wheat” or “100% Whole Grain” – and go for a low-calorie version, as well.
- Instant Oatmeal – While oatmeal can be a heart-healthy breakfast, it depends on the kind you consume. Instant oatmeal, as well as flavored oatmeal, contains plenty of added sugars that are considered refined carbs! Instead of letting the oatmeal company decide how many sugars you consume at breakfast, opt for rolled or steel-cut oats, and add your own healthful toppings.
- Croutons – Not only are these crunchy toppings flavored with sodium-rich seasonings, they’re also likely made from starchy white bread. Be sure to read the label to make sure the kind you’re purchasing is derived from 100% whole-wheat bread – or try topping your salad with savory Thermo-Snacks®, or add sesame or flax seeds for a nutrient-rich crunch!