Carbohydrates have become the bad boys of the nutrient world in recent years, but it’s worth remembering that there are two sides to every story.
One is the common refrain that carbs are bad. They make us fat.
The flip side is that carbs are good. They provide our bodies with fuel to live and, when taken from whole foods, may be beneficial in protecting us from cardiovascular disease.
The more easily digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our health, weight and well-beingANDREW WEIL
The key to eating carbs wisely is moderation. Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans1, between 45 and 65 percent of the calories you need to stay healthy should come from carbs. For the average adult needing about 2000 calories, for example, that means no more than 1,300 calories should come from carbs.
Check labels to find out carb content. Normally it will be marked as carbohydrates, but other words under which carbs can be hidden are starches, sugar alcohol, added sugar and naturally occurring sugars and fiber.
Your healthiest sources of carbs come from fruit and vegetables that are high in fiber. Select the fruit itself, not the juice. Whole grain breads and pastas are other wise choices, as are low-fat dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt.
There are also carbs in beans and legumes and they are a healthy addition to your diet since they are low in fat, high in potassium, iron, folate and magnesium and are a good protein source. They also have virtually no cholesterol.
Grow your understanding of carbohydrates so you can be better informed in the mass of information that appears yearly about them. Remember that they are naturally occurring macronutrients in many wholesome foods. The problem is when your carb sources all come from processed foods and baked goods to which they have been added.
Like so many components of food, there are different types of carbs. The three main categories are sugar, starch and fiber. Sugar, the most basic, simple carb form, is also the least desirable. Starch is a more complex carb with several different sugar units sort of glued together. Fiber, also a complex carb, helps your body’s digestive system to operate effectively. All three sources are found naturally in many whole foods and all three sources can also be added by food processors.
Snack foods and high-sugar desserts are the least acceptable sources of carbs in a healthy diet. Even certain fruits and vegetables have different amounts of carbs. For example, potatoes and corn have more starch than beans and tomatoes. Blueberries and strawberries have fewer naturally occurring carbs than bananas.
When weight loss is a priority, it is good to be aware of sources of carbs and the kinds of carbs you are taking into your body. Remember to select complex carbs over simple ones.
For more straightforward and useful evidence-based health advice, consult The Body Manual at ….
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans