Ever wondered how to tell which carbs are good and which are bad? Which cooking oils are healthy and which turn you tubby? Foods seem to be both healthy and unhealthy depending on whom you ask, so here is an easy way to tell which carbs and which fats are best for you.
Carbohydrates: Dip Them in Water
If you can submerge a carbohydrate in water for a few seconds and take it out in its original form, you’ve got yourself a good carb. This will be true for all fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. The very thing that makes these foods able to hold their natural form in water is what makes them healthy for you. The process of breaking these foods down so we can digest and absorb their nutrients is slower which means we get a steadier stream of nutrients, plus the benefit of their natural fiber keeping our colon happy.
Unhealthy carbohydrates shrink, shrivel and dissolve in water. Think cake, cookies, crackers and colas. The reason these are all so soluble in water is what makes them unhealthy. They’re already processed, so the work of breaking down their cellular structure has been done, making them soft, easy to chew, and almost always loaded with extra sugar and fat to make them even more delicious.
Now don’t go claiming that because a Hershey’s© bar or piece of hard candy holds its shape under water that it must be healthy. Some “food” has been processed to make it harder and hold its shape for texture purposes, but these absolutely don’t count and should be avoided as much as possible.
Fat: Flip It Over
If you have a container filled with a form of fat at room temperature and you can open it, turn it over and it doesn’t pour out, you’ve got yourself an unhealthy fat. Healthy fats are liquid at room temperature. These are easier for the body to break down and use for energy compared to the clunkier saturated fats that harden at room temperature.
Now again there are some exceptions. Some oils are mixed with other materials to cut down on cost but maintain the same color and composition as a true oil, but these are definitely not the same. Keep a keen eye on the ingredients label of what you buy and make sure you’re getting the oil that you want and not a diluted copycat.
Now just because flour isn’t as healthy as a carb in its raw form, or some fat agrees with our cholesterol levels better than others doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them. We need simple carbohydrates that absorb easily and there are health benefits to moderate consumption of saturated fats (grease, lard, butter, etc.), but the reason these things have been labeled unhealthy today is because we have flooded our lives with them. We consume too many sugars and too few healthy fats, and the education of the differences fell way behind the rate at which these foods multiplied on our menus.