MYTH: Carbohydrates are bad for your health and can make you gain weight.
FACT: In the recent past, no-carb and low-carb diets have demonized carbohydrates in the eyes of the public. It’s time to take a new look at carbs! First of all, carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for the body. Without them, we would have a very difficult time functioning and moving about our day-to-day activities.
In their simplest form, carbohydrates break down into glucose, or sugar, which our cells use for energy. But, not all carbs are created equal. There is a big difference between refined carbohydrates, such as pastries, cookies, white pasta – and those that are not processed, like whole grains, fruits and starchy vegetables.
Whole grains contain multiple vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in fiber, which can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, support optimal digestion, and stabilize blood sugar levels. Fiber helps prevent constipation, while also creating a feeling of fullness, which prevents us from overeating – good news for anyone who is looking to drop some pounds in a healthy way. Some examples of whole grains are oatmeal, wild rice, buckwheat, corn, quinoa, barley, as well as whole wheat breads, crackers, pastas and cereals. Also, whole grains are low in fat and have been linked to lower risks of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Refined grains and added sugars, however, are stripped of their nutrients and fiber; not only are they missing key nutrition, but these foods can spike our blood sugar and make us crave more food, while putting us at risk for developing diabetes. Refined carbs and added sugars to avoid: white flour, baked goods, white rice, white bread, soda, juice and candy.
Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots are also rich in numerous health-boosting minerals and vitamins. Fruit is an excellent source of fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants; keep in mind, fruit does contain natural sugar, so should still be eaten in moderation.