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Main carbohydrates are bread, cereals and potatoes. This food group also contains pasta, rice and noodles and is full of starchy carbohydrates – your body’s main source of energy.

Apart from potatoes, all the foods listed in this group began life as a grain, such as wheat, rye, corn, rice or barley.

Potatoes and grains are very healthy and filling; however, you can be even healthier if you choose unrefined versions of these foods over refined versions.

Carbohydrates – Wholemeal bread

Refined carbohydrates refers to foods where machinery has been used to remove the high fiber bits (the bran and the germ) from the grain. White rice, white bread, sugary cereals, and pasta and noodles made from white flour are all examples of refined carbohydrates.

Unrefined carbohydrates still contain the whole grain, including the bran and the germ, so they’re higher in fiber and will keep you feeling fuller for longer – great if you’re trying to lose weight and hate feeling hungry. Examples include whole grain rice, wholemeal bread, porridge oats and whole wheat pasta.

If you’d like to eat more fiber or beat hunger pangs, try these healthy swaps:

Refined Swap Unrefined
Frosted flakes Bran flakes
White toast Porridge oats
Cereal bar Rice cakes
French bread Wholemeal bread
Normal pasta Whole wheat pasta
Bread stick Dark rye crisp bread
If you decide to increase the amount of fiber you eat, try to drink more water too. Your body doesn’t digest fiber, so you need the extra water to help it flow through your digestive system with ease.

Simple and complex carbohydrates

These are often confused with refined and unrefined carbohydrates, but the terms simple and complex refer to how complicated the chemical structure of a carbohydrate is rather than to whether it’s whole grain or not. Complex carbohydrates are the most common and there are three kinds:



This is your body’s major fuel source and is sometimes referred to as blood sugar. It’s formed from glucose, which is found in almost all foods, and is converted into energy.



This is only found in plants and, contrary to popular belief, isn’t fattening (it’s the rich sauces, fats and oils often added to pasta, potatoes, rice, noodles and bread that are the culprits!).


Fiber (non-starch polysaccharide).

This is abundant in unrefined carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables, and is important because it helps your body to process waste efficiently and helps you to feel fuller for longer.

How much is enough?

Nutritionists recommend that the bread, cereals and potatoes group makes up the bulk of your diet – roughly 47 to 50 per cent.

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