Smart Carbs or Dumb Carbs – What Is The Difference?

Do you know the difference between ‘Smart Carbs or Dumb Carbs’? There had been a movement away from some of these ‘Smart Carbs’ that you see in the photo above.  Our world is finally realizing that it is not about low-carbs. It is about ‘smart carbs’ not about deleting carbs from our meals entirely. There are many carbs that are actually true PowerFoods with a lot of health benefits.

What are Smart Carbs?’

Here is a list of them:

  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Whole Grains

Complex carbohydrates are Smart carbs and can be very good for you.  You can have carbs, as long as you choose them carefully; that is why they are called smart carbs! It’s all about balance.  The body’s muscles need smart carbs as fuel and so does the brain.

Which carbs are NOT SMART?

These are not smart carbs:

  1. White bread & pasta
  2. White rice
  3. Bottled and canned fruits and juices
  4. Pops/sodas and other sugar products
  5. Food that is full of refined carbohydrates like sugar (even those made with honey, maple syrup, etc) cakes & cookies.

Those foods are simply empty calories with very little nutrition in them. IF IT’S WHITE, IT’S NOT RIGHT!

The Best Smart Carbs are:

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  • Fruits and vegetables, especially the green ones that grow above the ground like kale or dark, leafy lettuce.
  • Seeds including sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  • Nuts such as almonds
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, whole wheat bread * pasta, multi-grain cereal.bread, oatmeal, and oat bran.
  • Beans such as kidney beans and garbanzo beans.

Why Carbs are important:

The body requires about 60-65% carbohydrates to feed the brain, nervous system and muscles.  Glucose is the predominant carbohydrate used in the body. Blood sugar refers to glucose in the blood and is a major fuel source for most cells of the body. The muscles store glucose in the form of glycogen for endurance.

Your brain relies on glucose to meet its energy needs. Unless the diet supplies adequate carbohydrates, the body’s metabolism switches to a starvation mode, in which body fat is burned to meet most energy needs. To fuel the brain during starvation, glucose is synthesized from amino acids obtained by the breakdown of muscles. You can see why the right kind of carbohydrates is essential for a balanced body.


The problem with understanding carbohydrates is classification.

For simple distinction, there are three categories of carbohydrates:

  • Complex – Cereal grains such as wheat, rice, rye, millet, sorghum, and corn. Beans and seeds of legumes contain 40% of their weight as starch. Complex carbohydrates occur in plants as starch and fiber. Learn all the many health benefits of Quinoa, Wild Rice, Buckwheat, Oatmeal, and Cornmeal.
  • Simple – Sucrose, dextrose, fructose and corn syrup or anything on a label ending in -“ose.” Simple carbohydrates are referred to as sugars.
  • Refined or Processed – Sugar and white flour are highly purified materials, containing little, if any, of the nutrients found in the whole food from which the carbohydrate was prepared; therefore, they supply mainly calories.

Why We Don’t Eat Smart?

There has been a lot of confusion about carbs which has scared some but another reason is that we don’t know how to COOK complex carbohydrates properly.

Learn How to Cook Quinoa

Learn all about Millet and how to cook it: Millet

Learn 7 Ways to Avoid Gas from Beans

It is also about smart fats, see OILS and smart proteins (vegetable fats are less clogging but again- don’t eat too much).

A Few ‘Smart Carb’ Meal Ideas For You

Yummy Pesto Pasta Green Beans – I love this pesto pasta with green beans.  This is a wonderful Italian dish made with gluten-free pasta and fresh green beans.  This meal is delicious, very easy to make and healthy too.

Delicious Green Beans with Almonds – Green beans with golden almonds are a very tasty dish and simple to make too.  The perfect dish to make when green beans are in season or anytime.  Green beans are full of so many health benefits. They are a tasty healthy option to add to a meal. Many of us grow them in our garden so we can eat them fresh in the summer.

Sweet Wild Blueberry Keto Smoothie is Easy to Make – I love this wild blueberry keto smoothie. It is perfect for a quick breakfast or makes a tasty afternoon snack. What makes it keto is that there are only a small amount of blueberries in it and all of the other ingredients are keto-friendly. I like to make it a little sweeter by adding a few drops of stevia to mine.  Wild blueberries are a tasty superfood that for centuries has been a part of the native North American’s diet. These small wild blueberries are almost always found in the freezer section of most grocery stores. I love wild blueberries and almost always have some in my freezer if I can’t find them fresh.

Delicious Radish Quinoa Salad with Arugula – This colorful radish quinoa salad is a yummy and nourishing salad for any season. It is full of good protein from the quinoa. It is a whole meal in one bowl. How easy is that for dishwashing!  I love salad and grain bowls that are packed with nutrients.

Delicious Wild Rice Risotto with Corn and Mushrooms – This is a delicious wild rice risotto which is very simple to make. The addition of mushrooms and corn makes it extra yummy.  Wild rice is one of the gluten-free superfoods. It is thought to be the most decadent grain with its distinctive, nutty, earthy flavor.  It actually isn’t even rice, so it is gluten-free, which is good news for many of us.

Delightfully Delicious Wild Rice SaladThis wild rice salad is delicious, nourishing and filling. It has tasty colorful vegetables in it to give the wild rice a good contrast and is a crunchy salad for lunch or dinner. A very good thing about this salad is it is another whole meal in a bowl which means there are fewer dishes to wash after eating this delicious meal. Also, I love wild rice!

You can learn how to plan and prepare super healthy meals with my 2-5-30 Healthy Diet Online Courses.

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Diana Herrington

Diana has been writing about natural health and wellness for over 20 years. Having used foods to heal her own body, she now shares her wisdom with others.

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2 Comments

  1. Excellent article, very useful and very timely – my husband is in a critical health situation and keeps asking where do I get carbs? Thank you very much for answering this vital question.

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