Introduction: In the child nutrition class I teach, students were asked to respond to and prepare a convincing argument on the statement, Carbohydrates are bad for you. One of those students, Brittany Ekvall, has been asked to be a guest author on this blog site. Her paper on Good Carbs-Bad Carbs is below.
Are Carbohydrates Bad or Good for You?
Many people think that all carbohydrates are bad for you. While WebMD will partially agree with you that some carbohydrates are indeed bad, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Our bodies require anywhere from 45-60% of our calories from carbohydrates. Knowing how to choose the proper carbohydrates rather than reaching for the refined and processed foods is the key to staying healthy without packing on the pounds.
The main reason we need carbohydrates in your life is because they provide energy. Once we ingest our food, it gets broken down into simple sugars and absorbed into the bloodstream. Kidshealth recommends that most of our carbohydrates come from complex carbohydrates, or starches, due to their ability to be broken down over time and keep you fuller longer rather than immediately dispersing and leaving you hungry sooner like simple carbohydrates would. There are good simple carbohydrates, such as fruits and milk, which are good for you due to their sugar being natural rather than added.
A second reason carbohydrates are good for you is that they are a good source of dietary fiber, something most Americans don’t get enough of nowadays. According to a study do9ne at McKinley Health Center, fiber found in carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products, can help remove waste form the body. Fiber can also reduce the risk for heart disease, obesity and even help lower cholesterol.
A third reason that carbohydrates are important to us is because of whole grains. While these also provide fiber that is sorely needed in our diets, CDC states that whole grains also naturally provide us with nutrients such as folic acid and iron which are removed from refined grains and added back in enriched grains. Whole grains can be found in foods such as whole grain cereal, popcorn brown rice, barley, whole wheat bread and oatmeal. The way you can tell if something is whole grain is by reading the nutrition label on their respective packages to see if the first word listed is “whole grains”.
Magee, E. Health and Cooking, Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: Why carbohydrates Matter to you. Web March 24, 2012. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/carbohydrate
Gavin, M. Learning about Carbohydrates. Kidshealth, 2011. Web March 21, 2012. http://kidshealth.org/kid/nutrition/food/carb.html
McKinley Health Center. Macronutrients: The Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat. Web, March 24, 2012. http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/macronutrients.htm
CDC, Nutrition for Everyone: Carbohydrates. Web, March 24, 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/carbs.html