May 07, 2020
Carbohydrates have become a dirty word in our fitness-obsessed culture. But are all carbs bad for you or do they play an important role in fueling our bodies?
Here’s the skinny on all the pros and cons of eating carbs.
When explaining the elements of a healthy diet, nutritionists often talk about good carbs and bad carbs. But what does that really mean?
Carbohydrates are foods that our bodies convert into glucose or sugar for energy. There are two kinds:
• Simple carbohydrates, which include table sugar, honey, fruit, and dairy products.
• Complex carbohydrates are starches like bread, crackers, pasta, and rice. Certain vegetables are also high in starch. Corn, peas, potatoes and squash are just some examples.
Carbs can also be broken down into refined and whole grain. Refined carbs have been heavily processed while whole grains remain in their more natural form.
When nutritionists talk about good carbs, they’re referring to the whole grain variety, which provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals essential for a healthy diet. Examples of whole grain foods include oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat bread.
Why are refined carbs bad for you? The problem is that the refining process tends to leach out all of the good stuff so you just end up eating empty calories with little nutritional benefit.
Because our bodies are able to digest refined carbs easier, they tend to cause our blood sugar to spike, which is dangerous for people with diabetes. These types of carbohydrates also don’t provide sustained energy.
Studies have shown that diets heavy in refined carbohydrates increase your risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other serious health issues.
The bottom line is that carbs are an important part of your diet and shouldn’t be completely avoided. Instead, focus on adding more whole grain foods, fresh fruits, and vegetables to your diet while cutting back on heavily processed foods. Sweet potatoes have become a popular alternative to white potatoes and are chock-full of essential nutrients.
A healthy diet is all about balance. Even too much of a good thing can be an overkill for your body. Limit your carb intake to about one cup per meal.
Here are some whole grain options to try:
• Hulled barley for soup instead of rice or pasta
• Brown rice
• Wheat berries
You also need to be aware of your food’s fat content. The rule of thumb is to cut back on foods that are high in saturated fat. You can find saturated fat in red meat and whole-milk dairy products, including cheese, coconut oil, and commercially prepared food. Instead, opt for the healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish.
If you’d like to begin eating healthier and are looking for additional guidance, a nutritionist can help you create a custom meal plan that will provide you with healthy balance of “good” carbs, fats, and proteins.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information on this web site is for general information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or health care provider on any matters relating to your health.