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Eating unrefined carbohydrates helps meet your daily need for nutrients to maintain your overall health. These complex carbohydrates provide more essential dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals than refined carbohydrates. Choosing to eat more unrefined carbohydrates may even help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol and prevent anemia.
Refined vs. Unrefined
Unrefined carbohydrates come from whole foods such as the minimally processed whole grains wheat, oatmeal and brown rice, vegetables, fruits and beans. According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, refined grains are milled, which removes the bran and germ from the grain. Other carbohydrates are refined in similar processes that leave mostly the simple carbohydrates, or sugars, behind. Examples of refined carbohydrates include sugar, corn syrup, white flour, white rice and white bread. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, these simple carbohydrates may promote weight gain, diabetes and heart disease.
Vitamins and Minerals
Unrefined carbohydrates provide a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, refined carbohydrates contain fewer B vitamins and less iron than unrefined carbohydrates. Getting an adequate amount of B vitamins helps your body metabolize energy and produce essential enzymes and proteins. You need iron for the formation of hemoglobin and to ensure oxygen is distributed properly in your body. Without enough of these vitamins and minerals, you may feel fatigued and develop anemia.
Unrefined carbohydrates contain more fiber than refined versions because during the refining process, most of the fiber is removed. Apple juice, for example, contains no fiber, while a whole medium apple contains 3.7 grams. White flour has 1 gram of fiber per half cup, whereas whole-wheat flour has 7.3 grams per half cup. Getting an adequate amount of dietary fiber helps regulate your bowel movements and may aid in weight loss by helping you feel full on fewer calories. Dietary fiber also plays a role in lowering your cholesterol and regulating your blood sugar, according to MayoClinic.com.
Meeting Your Needs
ChooseMyPlate.gov suggests eating 6 ounces of grains per day on a 2,000-calorie daily diet. Of those 6 ounces, at least half should come from unrefined grains. An ounce of unrefined carbohydrate is equivalent to one-half cup of cooked oatmeal, brown rice, barley, bulgur, whole-wheat pasta or quinoa. Meeting your daily needs for carbohydrates helps to maintain your energy levels and provides nutrients you need.