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Q: Are some carbohydrates better for you than others?

A: Carbohydrates, the body's main source of energy, are found in healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and even dairy products. The best approach for a balanced diet is to get most of your carbohydrates from unprocessed foods like these, instead of processed items, such as sugar, white bread, and pastries. In addition to carbs, they have fiber, which helps lower cholesterol levels and keeps you feeling full, and other nutrients. If you're craving comfort food, try a baked potato (eat the skin and skip the sour cream); you'll get fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. Or, try roasting a sweet potato, which gives you a dose of vitamin A. Instead of desserts, which have lots of refined carbohydrates, fat, and almost no nutritional value, satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit.

Constance Brown-Riggs, a registered dietitian in Massapequa, New York, is a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

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