IN DEFENCE OF CARBOHYDRATES
My name is Nadia Kabir Barb and I am a carboholic. There I said it, it's official. I have known for a while that I have an unnatural love of all things carb filled. If I had my way, biriyani would be considered a balanced diet. Come on, if you think about it, on top of the carbohydrates you get from the rice, you also get your protein from the meat, the ghee constitutes the fats and the potatoes can double up as vegetables. I can tell that the nutritionists and health conscious of you out there are not buying into this theory.
I did once try to cut out carbs from my diet but found that all it did was turn me into a grumpy, irritable and rather hungry person. Needless to say my resolution was very short lived. In my defence some research has suggested that eating carbohydrates can raise the serotonin level in the brain which is a feel good hormone.
Nowadays the word 'carb' or carbohydrate has, rather unfairly in my opinion, earned a bad reputation. What we can forget in a world where proteins have become the good guys, is that carbohydrates are our primary source of energy.
People often assume that carbs are bad for us but this would be an incorrect assumption. There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are easy to digest, release energy quickly and though they may fill you up immediately, do not keep you feeling full for long. Quite frequently the foods that are considered simple carbs are high in sugar and low in fibre. The well-known culprits are white rice, white bread, white pasta, cakes, biscuits and even fizzy drinks and yes, even I can admit that they are bad for you especially if consumed frequently or in large quantities.
Although fruits and vegetables are simple carbohydrates, as they contain natural sugars, our body processes the sugars in them differently and effectively treats them as complex carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates are foods that take longer to break down in our body and release energy slowly and more consistently. Brown rice, whole-grain pasta, beans, whole wheat bread, whole oats, etc. are foods that fall into the category of complex carbs.
These days instead of talking about good or bad carbohydrates which can be misleading, dieticians refer to the glycemic index of a food. This tells us how quickly and how high our blood sugar will rise after eating the carbohydrate contained in a particular food item. Foods with a lower glycemic index are considered healthier for us, and make us feel full longer after eating them. Most, but not all, complex carbs fall into the low glycemic index category.
Obviously this is a very simplified explanation but I just felt the need to defend the often maligned reputation of carbohydrates across the world. For my fellow carboholics, we don't need to strip carbs from our life, as long as we maintain a balanced diet which, unfortunately, biriyani does not qualify as.