Are Carbs Unhealthy?

Cholesterol is good for you. So is fat. So is sodium. In fact, you’ll die if you don’t get enough of these nutrients. On the flip side, if you eat too much of a bad nutrient, you’ll get sick and/or die, as well.

So, what about carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are good for you. So good, in fact, that most of your diet should come from them.

Yes, eating 5,000 calories of bread, potatoes, rice and pasta (and other processed carbs) every day and sitting on the couch can lead to diabetes and other health problem. That has nothing to do with eating a reasonable amount—even the majority of your calories—of complex carbohydrates.

By the way . . . eating 5,000 calories of chicken, turkey, steak and fish every day and sitting on the couch will also probably kill you.

Carb Hysteria

Why the hype about low-carb diets, and why did it take almost 20 years for the media to finally let the general population know that low-carb diets were a scam?

Conspiracy theorists and paranoids love to hate “the establishment,” and so even though virtually EVERY credible health organization gives the SAME basic guidelines for healthy eating, enough “rebels” will run out and buy de-tox, grapefruit-only, apple cider vinegar, low-carb or other nonsense diet information.

Low-carb diets are usually commercial “systems” or “methods” for losing weight with little science behind them.

Trust the USDA?

We know that members of Congress take “campaign contributions” from food lobbyists and appoint federal employees to “take care of” dairy farmers, cattle ranchers, chicken producers, etc.

However, if you look at how the human body works, you’ll learn why we need to eat certain types and amounts of carbohydrates, fat, protein, cholesterol, sodium, etc. Your body burns fat or carbs when you move, not protein. Therefore, you need more fat and carbs to fuel you. Without enough carbs, you can experience bodily reactions that promote dehydration, kidney stress, muscle wasting and other problems.

The Breakdown

If you want to eat healthy, credible health organizations recommend you base your calories on the following:

•Most of your daily calories (50 to 60 percent) should come from complex carbohydrates and whole grains.

•Most of your carbs should not be refined (e.g., white bread, white pasta, white potatoes, white rice).

•Divide your plate in three at mealtime. Fill 1/2 of your plate with non-starchy fruits and vegetables, 1/4 of your plate with lean protein, and 1/4 of your plate with starchy vegetables. Add a serving of low-fat dairy, if you need extra vitamin D and calcium.

Additional Resources

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010

 Mayo Clinic: Food Pyramids: Explore These Healthy Diet Options

Harvard School of Public Health: Food Pyramids: What Should You Really Eat?

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Sample Menus for a 2000 Calorie Food Pattern

McKinley Health Center: Macronutrients: the Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat

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