When I asked an audience for examples of carbohydrates, the answers were “pasta, bread, and rice”. I expected these answers and pressed on, quizzing if beans and legumes were carbohydrates. They replied with a resounding “no”. “What are they then?” I asked. They stared back blankly. Vegetables, perhaps?
This can be quite confusing, as it really boils down to how we define these terms. As Humpty Dumpty said to Alice, “‘[a word] means just what I choose it to mean.”
Between plants and animals, a vegetable is a plant; therefore, it may be assumed that any part of a plant is a vegetable. However, it’s a bit like exercise versus physical activity: exercise is physical activity, but not all physical activity is exercise. According to Collins English dictionary, “any of various herbaceous plants having parts that are used as food, such as peas, beans, cabbage, potatoes, cauliflower, and onions.” Notice peas and beans on list?
Peas and beans and other legumes are technically seeds — just as grains are technically seeds. They can all germinate and grow into a plant. Which means they should all be classified as carbohydrate-rich. However, there are different kinds of carbohydrates, such as fiber (soluble and insoluble) and sugar.
Comparing cup for cup, white rice provides approximately 206kcal and 45g carbohydrate, and black beans provides approximately 227kcal and 45g carbohydrate — nearly the same. Yet white rice has less than 1 g of fiber and 4 g of protein, compared to 15g fiber and 15g protein in black beans. The fiber and protein help keep you fuller for longer by slowing down digestion.
When you feel fuller for longer, you are satiated and the urge to eat is curbed. You get more “bang for you carbohydrate (and calorie!) buck.”
Think slow carb, not low carb.
Photo credit: By Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture – http://www.public-domain-image.com/public-domain-images-pictures-free-stock-photos/food-and-drink-public-domain-images-pictures/bread-public-domain-images-pictures/enriched-bread-flour-cornmeal-rice-and-pasta.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24902204