Top 13 Carbohydrates to Avoid for Better Health
When you think of “carbs,” you probably envision foods such as pasta and bread or trendy diets that eliminate all carbs for quick weight loss. However, carbohydrates come in various forms and are essential for providing energy to your nervous system.
It’s crucial to understand that not all carbs are created equal before deciding which ones to include in your meals and snacks. For instance, the carbs found in soda have a different effect on your body compared to those in fruits or beans.
While all carbs can be part of a healthy diet, there are some that you should limit in your daily eating habits. The least healthy carbs are typically forms of added sugar. Granulated white sugar used in baking, sweetened syrups added to coffee, and other sweeteners found in common foods all consist of added sugar.
Numerous studies have shown the negative impact of a high-sugar diet, including increased blood triglycerides, high blood sugar levels, and elevated blood pressure. When selecting carbs for your diet, look for options that do not contain added sugar. Nutrition labels clearly list this nutrient, making it easy to compare different brands and choices.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sugar intake to 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men. Additionally, prioritize carb-containing foods that are high in fiber. Fiber, also listed in the nutrition facts, aids digestion and promotes a feeling of fullness. If you’re unsure, it’s best to avoid or limit the consumption of these 13 unhealthy carbs.
Also, be sure to check out our article on the top 20 healthy carbs for weight loss. Store-bought jams and jellies often have a high amount of added sugar. Although these products are generally made with fruit, some brands use more added sugar than actual fruit by weight.
With certain options containing 50 calories per tablespoon, derived completely from carbs, these empty calories won’t leave you satisfied after your morning toast. Instead of buying jelly from the store, consider making your own at home. This can be easily achieved by heating frozen berries, mixing in chia seeds, and mashing them with a fork. The result is a chunky, naturally sweet spread packed with nutrients and free from added sugar.
Plain yogurt can be a fantastic source of essential nutrients like calcium, protein, and probiotics. Unfortunately, many flavored yogurt options are loaded with added sugar. While this doesn’t diminish the positive aspects of yogurt, it does make flavored yogurt less ideal. Instead, opt for plain yogurt and add your own flavorings with fresh fruit (or even a spoonful of homemade jam!). If you prefer store-bought flavored yogurt, search for options without added sugar.
In many cases, these products are sweetened with zero-calorie alternatives like stevia or monk fruit. Who can resist a freshly baked muffin or a weekend donut? While the sugar content in glazed donuts or chocolate-filled croissants may be obvious, you might be surprised by the sugar content in other pastries. Store-bought muffins are often a significant source of added sugar and can be exceptionally high in fat.
This makes them an unhealthy source of carbs that should be limited in your diet. Instead of purchasing muffins, try making your own at home using whole wheat flour and honey instead of traditional added sugar. You can even add some shredded carrots or zucchini for extra fiber, making them even healthier. Fluffy bread is undoubtedly enjoyable, but it lacks essential nutrients. Most white breads are low in fiber and protein, and they may even contain added sugar.
Although a single slice of white bread often has fewer calories than a slice of whole grain bread, the high calorie count can be deceiving. Whole grain options typically have higher fiber and protein content, along with more essential nutrients like B vitamins. When selecting whole grain bread, be mindful of added sugar and choose options with at least 2 grams of fiber.
Flour tortillas, often filled with gooey cheese, are a common staple in households. Similar to white bread, flour tortillas generally lack fiber and may contain added sugar. Products made with white flour, including white bread and flour tortillas, are usually enriched with some vitamins and minerals but are less filling than those made with whole wheat flour.
When choosing tortillas, opt for whole wheat options or choose corn tortillas, which are typically made with minimal ingredients, making them a healthier source of carbs. Fruit snacks, often found in packed lunches, can be considered similar to candy.
Even if you see “made with real fruit” on the packaging of certain fruit snacks, be wary. While pureed fruit may be the first ingredient, there are likely multiple forms of added sugar listed in the ingredients. Additionally, these sugary treats often contain food dyes and colorings, making them even unhealthier. It’s best to avoid fruit snacks altogether and opt for fresh or canned fruit without added sugar.
With the multitude of cereals available in the market, it can be difficult to distinguish between the good and the bad. When selecting cereals, first examine the added sugar content. Ideally, this should be less than 5 grams per serving and as close to zero as possible.
Besides monitoring added sugar, look for options that provide at least 2 grams of fiber, though more is preferable. While sugary cereals may provide a quick breakfast, they can cause a rapid spike and fall in energy, leading to cravings for more sugar. Skip the sugar and choose fiber-rich options for sustained energy. It’s no surprise that candy is a significant source of sugar and carbs.
Fruit and chocolate-flavored candy not only contain high amounts of added sugar but also food dyes, saturated fat, and excessive calorie counts in many cases. Additionally, candy lacks fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it a poor source of calories. Occasional indulgence in a small serving of candy is acceptable, but try to replace your daily candy habit with healthier alternatives to satisfy your sweet tooth.
You can find chocolate chips with minimal added sugar, and homemade frozen fruit pops are a great alternative to candy. Like candy, ice cream is packed with calories, added sugar, and saturated fat. A single half-cup serving can contain over 200 calories, and let’s be honest, many of us serve ourselves larger portions.
While frozen yogurt has fewer calories due to its lower fat content, it still contains added sugar. Instead of traditional ice cream, try making “nice cream” at home by blending frozen bananas with a nut butter and topping it with low-sugar chocolate chips.
An unsweetened latte is a healthier coffee option that provides protein without added sugar. Although a plain cup of black coffee is low in calories and sugar-free, adding flavorings, syrups, and drizzles turns it into a sugary drink. Popular sweetened coffee drinks can contain hundreds of calories and more sugar than is healthy to consume in a day.
If black coffee is not to your taste, consider sweetening it with stevia or using milk to balance the acidity instead of sugar. An unsweetened latte is a great choice that offers protein without added sugar, making it a healthier coffee beverage.
Flavored syrups, often drizzled on pancakes, waffles, or used in baked goods, contain high amounts of added sugar. Maple-flavored syrup is a popular option in this category, and many common brands list added sugar as the first ingredient. If you enjoy the taste of maple, stick to 100% maple syrup. While it is still considered an added sugar, at least you’ll be avoiding unhealthy processed sugar and other artificial ingredients found in flavored syrups.