Refined carbohydrates have been revealed to be a main driver behind Type 2 diabetes.

A study from Tufts University tracked worldwide growth of Type 2 diabetes and found consumption of refined carbohydrates such as white pasta. According to CNN, “In fact, the study estimated 7 out of 10 cases of Type 2 diabetes worldwide in 2018 were linked to poor food choices.”

As many as 14 million cases of diabetes may be connected to refined carbohydrates, per the New York Post. “The research focused on 11 dietary factors and concluded that three had a disturbing influence on the rise of diabetes diagnoses.” These three factors included red meat, process meat and refined carbohydrates.

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What are refined carbohydrates?

Refined carbohydrates fall into two categories: sugars and simple carbohydrates.

Some examples of refined carbohydrates include table sugar or white rice or white bread. According to Healthline, these carbohydrates are ingested quickly and have what’s called a high glycemic index. They typically result in blood sugar rising, which leads to high insulin after meals.

Refined carbohydrates don’t provide last-longing energy, per Medical News Today. They tend to be lower in minerals and vitamins than other types of carbohydrates.

What are complex carbohydrates?

Complex carbohydrates are sugar molecules that are in long strings, per Medline Plus. These types of carbohydrates are foods like beans and whole grains.

As opposed to refined carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates provide more long-lasting energy. Medline Plus said, “Complex carbohydrate foods provide vitamins, minerals and fiber that are important to the health of an individual. The majority of carbohydrates should come from complex carbohydrates (starches) and naturally occurring sugars, rather than processed or refined sugars, which do not have the vitamins, minerals and fiber found in complex carbohydrates.”

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What are some simple swaps you can make?

If you’re looking to eat less refined carbohydrates, you can make simple swaps that will help you to eat more whole grains.

In order to make these swaps, it’s important to read the labels on the back of food. Real Simple pointed out that food like salad dressings and cereals will often have added sugar in them. Even if a food has a health halo on it, it’s still possible there’s added sugar.

When reading the labels of food, look for things like refined white flour, sucrose (table sugar) and other ingredients similar to this. Here are some general tips you can use to find food that doesn’t have added sugars or refined carbohydrates.

  • Instead of eating white pasta, consider switching to whole wheat pasta.
  • Look on the back of the tomato sauce you use. See if you can switch to a tomato sauce that doesn’t have any sugar added.
  • Consider switching to brown rice.
  • Look at what you’re drinking. It’s possible you could be consuming drinks that have added sugars in them. A possible switch is to drinking herbal teas or to put water in your juice.
  • Switch from eating white bread to whole wheat or whole grain bread.
  • Consider eating protein-rich snacks and breakfasts instead of carbohydrate-rich snacks and meals.
  • Moderate your consumption of starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes, and consider eating more fiber rich vegetables like spinach and broccoli.
  • Experiment with different types of flour instead of eating white flour. Some flours you can try are almond flour or whole wheat flour or coconut flour.
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Meals with whole grains

  • Quinoa with cucumber, chickpeas, tomatoes, feta and spinach.
  • Balsamic chicken with cooked spinach and mashed cauliflower.
  • A grilled cheese on whole wheat bread with a garden salad on the side.
  • Ground beef with brown rice, black beans, bell peppers, onions and lettuce.
  • Bell peppers stuffed with ground lamb and brown rice.
  • Soup with lentils, vegetable broth, carrots, onions, celery and spinach.
  • Whole wheat pasta with mozzarella, basil, tomatoes and pesto.
  • Salmon with broccoli and baked sweet potato.