Are Carbohydrates Killing You

Carbohydrates are everywhere but are they killing you.  You cannot escape them try as you must.  According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an unhealthy diet contributes to approximately 678,000 deaths each year in the United States.  The deaths are due to poor nutrition and obesity-related diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.  The Food and Agriculture Organization released a report stating the average American eats an average of over 3600 calories a day.  A large part of these calories are from simple refined carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are killing you if you are consuming the wrong kind.  Carbohydrates are sugars, starches, and fibers.  Some are good and some are deadly.  So are you eating good carbohydrates or bad carbohydrates?  Are you eating complex carbohydrates or refined carbohydrates, are you being good or bad?

Your Diet

The National Academies Institute of Medicine recommends to meet the body’s daily nutritional needs adults should get 45-65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20-35% from fat and 10-35% from protein.  Healtline.com suggests if you eat a 2000 calorie diet, you should get about 225-325 grams of carbs per day.  But if you are trying to lose weight limit your carb intake to 50-150 grams a day. This, of course, is of the “good” carbs, more of that later.

 

Carbohydrates

Can be divided into three categories:

      1. Sugars: Examples are glucose, fructose, galactose, and sucrose.
      2. Starches: Long chains of glucose molecules that get broken down into glucose in the digestive system.
      3. Fiber: Humans cannot digest fiber, but bacteria in the digestive system can make use of fiber.

The main purpose of carbohydrates is to provide energy.  Some carbs get broken and transformed into glucose, which can then be used as energy.  Other carbs can get turned into fat for later use.

 

Refined Carbohydrates

These are primarily sugars and processed grains.  These are your “bad” carbs, the carbs that are turned into fat.

      • White flour
      • White bread
      • Pastries
      • White rice
      • Sodas
      • Snacks
      • Pasta
      • Sweets
      • Breakfast cereals

Yes, refined carbohydrates are the “bad” ones.  They are linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

 

Refined Carbs are Considered “Empty” Calories.

Almost all fiber, minerals, and vitamins have been taken out of refined carbohydrates.  Refined carbs are digested quickly into your system.  They have a high glycemic index.  This high glycemic index is what leads to the rapid rise in your blood sugar and insulin levels after digesting.

 

Why You Keep Eating

Do you ever wonder why you can’t stop eating after consuming some foods? When you eat refined carbs, you are eating foods that are low in fiber and digested into your system quickly.  This causes a major swing in blood sugar levels.  You feel full for maybe an hour, blame it on the glycemic index.  (The glycemic index GI is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels.  Carbohydrates with a low BI value, 55 or less, are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, insulin levels.)

Refined carbs and sugars will not keep you full.  So you overeat.  Overeating is what leads to obesity.  According to healthydata.org, approximately 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight.

 

Good Carbohydrates

Good carbs or whole carbs are unprocessed and contain fiber found naturally in foods.  Carbohydrates have fewer calories per gram for gram than fat, and starchy foods can be a good source of fiber.  High fiber foods add bulk to your meal, giving you that feeling of being full. So these carbohydrates aren’t killing you.

 

Healthline.com 12 Super Healthy Carbohydrates

Quinoa:

It is gluten-free. Cooked quinoa is 21.3% carbs, which is also an excellent source of protein and fiber.  The health benefits of quinoa include blood sugar control and weight loss.

Oats:

May be the best whole grain food on the planet. They are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  Raw oats contain 66% carbs, 11% which is fiber, they are also a relatively good source of protein.  The health benefits include lowering cholesterol, may also lower blood sugar levels.

Buckwheat:

It is gluten-free. Raw buckwheat contains 71.5% carbs, cooked buckwheat contains 20% carbs.  It contains both protein and fiber and has more minerals and antioxidants than most grains. Beneficial to heart health and blood sugar.  It is the main ingredient in soba noodles.

Bananas:

Are made up of 23% carbs in the form of starches and sugars. Bananas are high in potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.  They may help lower blood pressure and support digestive health.

Sweet potatoes:

Cooked sweet potatoes contain 18-21% carbs, consisting of starch, sugar, and fiber. They are a rich source of provitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.  Their health benefits include help reduce oxidative damage, lowering the risk of some diseases.

Beetroots:

Raw and cooked beets contain 8-10% carbs from sugar and fiber. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, potent antioxidants, and plant compounds.  Beets are also high in inorganic nitrates, which lowers blood pressure.

Oranges:

Composed of water and contain 11.8% carbs, while also being a good source of fiber. They are rich in vitamin C, potassium, citric acid, and some B vitamins.  Oranges can improve heart health and prevent kidney stones.  They may also increase your uptake of iron from food.

Blueberries:

They contain high amounts of plant compounds and antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and manganese. Blueberries consist of mostly water as well as 14.5% carbs.  Studies have shown that blueberries protect your body from oxidative damage.  They may also improve memory in older adults.

Grapefruit:

Contains 9% carbs with high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. Grapefruits can aid weight loss and reduce insulin resistance, while helping to prevent kidney stones, lower cholesterol levels and protect against colon cancer.

Apples:

All apples generally have 13-15% carbs and are a good source of vitamin C, antioxidants and plant compounds. The health benefits include improving blood sugar, reduce the risk of heart disease, and may reduce the risk of some types of cancer.

Kidney Beans:

Cooked kidney beans contain 22.8% carbs in the form of starches and fiber while being high in protein. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds while also being rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins and isoflavones.  Their health benefits include improved blood sugar and control the reduced risk of colon cancer.  NEVER eat them raw!

Chickpeas:

Also known as garbanzo beans contain 27.4% carbs, 8% of which are fiber. Chickpeas contain vitamins and minerals, including iron, phosphorus, and B-vitamins.  They are linked to improved heart and digestive health.  May also help prevent cancer.

 

 

Moral of the Story

Carbohydrates have been wrestling with a bad rep for way too long.  All carbohydrates are not bad.  Refined carbohydrates are bad. They are not only raising your insulin level, but they are making you feel like you need them and more… Think of refined carbs as that boyfriend/girlfriend who you just let hang around when you know s/he is no good.  Let it go already.  You don’t need ‘em and as soon as you eliminate ‘em from your diet you are going to feel so much better.

 

Get On Board with Good Carbohydrates

Good carbs: vegetables, sweet potatoes and yams, fruits, whole grain flours, brown rice, beans and peas, nuts, whole grains, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.  But just like any good thing, moderate your intake.  Even too much of a good thing can turn bad. Are carbohydrates killing you? Not if you are eating them in moderation.

Keep everything in check. Balance is key and if you are overdoing it with the carbs think about getting active. Our mobile app can help you find activities you love and people to do them with!