Refined carbohydrates refer to those carbohydrates that have been processed. The processing process strips much of the nutrients from food, such as the bran and germ from the whole grain or the fiber from fruits and vegetables. Processing food can prolong shelf life and it can provide a finer texture and improved taste to food; yet at the expense of nutrients and health. Refined carbohydrates are rapidly digested and often considered empty calories.
Refined processed carbohydrate foods are associated with:
Refined carbohydrates are best limited in the diet. The primary sources include:
- Grains such as white flour, white rice and pasta are the most common source of refined carbohydrates. Common sources of refined grains includes bagels, bread, muffins, cookies, cakes and donuts.
- Choose grain based foods that are made from "whole wheat" or "whole grain".
- Sweeteners such as table sugar and syrup such as high fructose corn syrup. Natural maple syrup and honey are not refined carbohydrates, yet they are simple carbohydrates and can have a similiar impact on blood sugar.
- Beverages that contain sugar or refined syrup, such as sweetened fruit juice, soft drinks and sweet tea. Consuming whole foods is always preferable to juices.
- Fruits and Vegetables which are canned or frozen are considered refined carbohydrates when sugar or other preservatives are added.
- Snacks are commonly high in refined carbs since they contain white flour or sugar. This includes sweets like pie, candy, candy bars, fudge and jelly. Other snacks high in refined carbs include pretzels and potato chips.