On this edition of “Let’s talk Nutrition” I pulled out all the stops to talk about… Carbohydrates.
Yes, the infamous: Carbs
I don’t know about you; but how many times have you heard the phrase “carbohydrates are bad for you?” I have heard that more times than I count, and you want to know something… it… is… fake news.
Sure, if eaten in unnecessarily large quantities they could contribute to weight gain, but then again, so could too much of any food.
Also, quick disclaimer: If you have a health condition then a high amount of carbs could also affect you adversely.
I also think there may be a misconception about what carbs are.
Here is the type of carbs I am talking about broccoli, bagels, strawberries, potatoes, bananas, blueberries, wheat bread, spaghetti noodles, squash, asparagus, dried fruit, and real fruit juices.
And, the type of carbs I am not talking about: french fries/potato chips (carbs cooked in fat), Pizza (again carbs with lots of fat and high amounts of sodium) cherry pie (fat, sugar and carbs) cookies (sugar, carbs and fat) soda, and really lame, ALCOHOL… (both contain sugar carbs that our body does not naturally process).
Now that that is out of the way. Why are carbohydrates good for your body?
First and foremost, carbs are your main source of energy: They help fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles, and central nervous system, as well as keeps blood cholesterol levels in check, so a rule of thumb is the more energy you put out then the more energy i.e., carbs you need to put back in.
Not good enough and you need more reasons to add healthy carbs to your diet?
#1: Carbs boost your mood. You heard that right. Carbs make you happy. Researchers suspect that carbs promote the production of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical. In a study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who followed a very low carbohydrate diet for a year-which allowed only 20 to 40 grams of carbs daily, about the amount in just 1/2 cup of rice plus one piece of bread-experienced more depression, anxiety and anger than those who followed a low-fat, high-carb diet that focused on low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruit and beans.
Not a fan of being happy?
#2: As discussed in last week’s edition carbs have fiber and aid in digestion which helps your system process your foods which in turn helps your heart.
Researchers at Brigham Young University followed the eating habits of women for nearly two years and found that those who increased their fiber intake generally lost weight, and women who decreased the fiber in their diets gained weight. Since many carbohydrates contain dietary fiber, which is actually an indigestible complex carbohydrate is also is good for your heart. Research suggests that increasing your soluble-fiber intake by 5 to 10 grams each day could result in a 5 percent drop in “bad” LDL cholesterol. Similarly, people who eat more whole grains also tend to have lower LDL cholesterol and higher “good” HDL cholesterol.
Not a fan of healthy digestive system or a strong heart?
#3: Carbs help keep your memory sharp.
A study done by Tufts University found that test subjects that followed a “low-carbohydrate” diet for a week, did worse on tests of working memory (i.e., why did I walk into this room?) and visuospatial memory (remembering locations on a map) than their counterparts who followed a “low-calorie” diet.
If memory hasn’t done it for you yet, then maybe this final reason is for you.
#4: Carbs help burn fat.
Eating a breakfast made with “slow-release” carbohydrates, such as oatmeal or bran cereal 1-3 hours before exercise may help burn more fat, according to a study from the Journal of Nutrition. Why? Well, in the study, eating “slow-release” carbohydrates didn’t spike blood sugar as high as eating refined carbohydrates, such as cereal. In turn, insulin levels didn’t spike as high and because insulin plays a role in signaling your body to store fat, having lower levels may help you burn fat.
If you are having any issues feeling the positive effects of Carbohydrates, then it couldn’t hurt to check-in and see how many carbs you are or are not eating.
As always, if you have any more questions about carbohydrates or anything else about Nutrition. Reach out and let me know.
Now go out and eat those carbs.