Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Complex Carbohydrates, What Are They & How Many Do I Need?

Complex carbohydrates, what are they & how many do I need?

Starch and dietary fiber are the two types of complex carbohydrates. Starch must be broken down through digestion before the body can use it as a glucose source. Lots of foods contain starch and fiber such as breads, cereals, and vegetables:
  • Starch is in certain vegetables such as potatoes, dry beans, peas, and corn.
  • Starch is also found in breads, cereals, and grains.
  • Dietary fiber is in vegetables, fruits, and whole grain foods.

Dietary Fiber

You may have seen dietary fiber on the label listed as soluble fiber or insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber is found in the following:

  • Oatmeal
  • Oat bran
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Most fruits (strawberries, blueberries, pears, and apples)
  • Dry beans and peas

Insoluble fiber is found in the following:

  • Whole wheat bread
  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Couscous
  • Bulgur or whole grain cereals
  • Wheat bran
  • Seeds
  • Most vegetables
  • Fruits

Which type is best? Each has important health benefits so eat a variety of these foods to get enough of both. You'll also be more likely to get other nutrients that you might miss if you just chose 1 or 2 high-fiber foods.

How much dietary fiber do I need each day?

It is recommended that you get 14 grams of dietary fiber for every 1,000 calories that you consume each day. If you eat 2,ooo calories a day, you should try to include 28 grams of dietary fiber.

To fins out how much calories you need each day, visit and enter your age, sex, height, weight, and activity level in the My Pyramid Plan tool. Then refer to the Easy Fiber Estimator to find out how many grams you need.

At first, you may find it hard to eat all the fiber grams you need each day. Just take it slow and try to choose higher-fiber foods more often. Over time, you will gradually be eating more fiber!

Jumpstart you dietary fiber intake with these tips:

  • Choose whole fruits more often than fruit juice. Fresh, frozen, or canned all count!
  • Try to eat 2 vegetables with your evening meal.
  • Keep a bowl of veggies already washed and prepared in your refrigerator, such as carrots, cucumbers, or celery.
  • Make a meal around dried beans or peas/legumes instead of meat. Check ( for some new ideas.
  • Choose whole grain foods more frequently. A good guide is to make at least 1/2 of your grain choices be whole grains.
  • Start your day with a whole grain breakfast cereal low in added sugar and top with fruit for even more fiber.

Next up will be whole grains.

Blessings for a Glorious Day!

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