Myth: Consuming carbohydrates is unhealthy and can lead to unwanted weight gain.
Fact: Healthy carbohydrates do exist and eating a lot of refined carbs and sugar is what may lead to unwanted weight gain!
What are healthy Carbs?
Carbohydrates (carbs for short) are macronutrients that play a key roles in our body such as providing energy, controlling blood glucose and insulin metabolism, and promoting proper elimination. Carbs are not created equal and, according to recent studies, the best way to sort out “good” carbs from “bad” is by looking into the amount and type of fiber they contain, the amount of processing, the Glycemic Index (GI), and the Glycemic load (GL). Low GI carbs tend to be healthier than Carbs that have high GI as those can lead to adverse conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease or obesity if over-consumed.
Some healthier carb choices include fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils, barley, wheat, berries, and quinoa. These carbs are high in fiber and thus are digested and absorbed slowly into the blood stream. They also provide other benefits such as lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
How to focus on Healthy carbs
To include healthy carbs in your diet it is important to identify which ones are highly processed and which ones are not. Focusing on whole grains such as barely, wheat, and quinoa is another option. Another big category of healthy carbs are fruits. Adding fruits such as berries, citrus fruits, and melon to your diet can increase your healthy carb intake. In addition to this, reading food labels to avoid highly processed foods such as those with added sugars and refined grains is also very important.
Palmer, Sharon. 2013. “Focus on Healthy Carbs.” Environmental Nutrition 36 (10): 1–4. https://search-ebscohost-com.usd.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=90173751&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
Author: Hermela Abraham
Editor: Kaitlyn Longstaff
Public Health Scientist: LaCher E-W, MPH