Which carbs are good for your health? Introduction: In the nutrition class I teach, students were asked to respond to and prepare a convincing argument to counter the myth, Carbohydrates are bad for you. One of those students, Jackie Kunstmann, has been asked to be a guest author on this blog site. Her paper on The Case for Carbs is below.
Carbohydrates, or “carbs,” have been given a lot of bad press lately. Many people I know are very quick to jump onto the Atkins or South Beach Diets with their low carbohydrate ways when wanting to lose weight. I even had leanings this way until this Nutrition class.
The DRI Committee has determined that all persons need to have a diet composed of 46 to 65% of carbohydrates (with only 10 to 35% for protein and 20 to 35% for fat) to adequately meet their energy needs and reduce the risk of chronic disease.(1) The USDA’s current dietary recommendation, My Plate, features the plate being filled with over half carbohydrates.(2) When researching heart-healthy ways of eating (since heart disease is the leading cause of death among adults(3)), you will be directed to diets that feature carbohydrates. The Mediterranean Diet is one you hear much about lately. The base of the Mediterranean Diet’s pyramid is carbohydrates.(4) The DASH diet, recommended for lowering blood pressure, features carbohydrates predominantly.(5) If you search foods which are good for your heart, you will find them to be mainly carbohydrates. WebMD lists 25 of the top heart-healthy foods, and 21 of them are carbohydrates!(6)
When choosing foods to eat, we should not be considering whether to include carbohydrates into our diet (that is a given), we should be considering which carbohydrates to include. There are “good carbs,” and there are “not so good carbs.” In determining if a carbohydrate is “good” or “not so good,” you simply need to determine if the food is refined or processed. Sugars, added sugars, refined grains, and items which include these (such as candy, baked goods, white bread or rice) would be less than desirable carbohydrate choices; whereas, whole or minimally refined carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, or whole grain products would be optimal choices for carbohydrates.(7)
Sources: (1) Dietary Reference Intakes (2) MyPlate (3) CDC (4) Mediterranean Diet (5) DASH Diet (6) Top Heart-Healthy Foods (7) Carbohydrates (8) Nutrition Image Source: carbs