By Cara Rosenbloom, RD
In the world of nutrition, sometimes carbohydrates get a bad rap. The negativity may be due to misinformation because so many foods contain carbs, and some are healthier than others. So let’s separate fact from fiction and see how you can include carbs in your diet beneficially.
Choose these: Vegetables, fruit, beans, lentils and 100% whole grains are nutritious foods. Research links this combination of high-carb foods to prevention of heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. These foods contain complex carbs and fiber that satisfy your hunger and help stabilize cholesterol and blood sugar levels. And they are high in vitamins and minerals.
Have these less often: Sugars, syrups and foods made with these ingredients, such as cookies, candy and ice cream, are less nutritious forms of carbohydrates, lacking vitamins and minerals. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than six teaspoons per day for women and nine teaspoons per day for men. Excess added sugar — more than 12 teaspoons per day — is linked with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
What about low-carb diets? There isn’t one right diet for everyone, and some people — including those with type 2 diabetes — may thrive when they reduce carb intake. Most people who cut carbs successfully usually scale back on added sugar. That’s good as long as you eat a variety of nutritious, whole, plant-based foods that meet your nutrient needs. Ultimately, the best diet is one you can stick to long term.
Remember: It’s a mistake to disparage all carbohydrates just because some of them are sugary and not nutritious.”