The carbohydrate seems to be the latest loneliest number in nutritional rundowns. We’ve counted calories, weighed fat grams and now watch our carb intake. If it isn’t the new dietary four-letter word, it at least seems that way.
But an article titled “Carbs Demystified: What You Need to Know to Choose Wisely” in Vegetarian Times magazine‘s July/August 2010 issue wants to set the record straight and maybe even take up for the little guy–in some cases.
Presented in an easy-to-follow Q-and-A format, this article doesn’t get too technical or too, er, carb-coma-inducing. But, be prepared, it attempts to debunk some common misconceptions, so you may never look at breads or pasta the same again. Here’s why.
- Carbs can be beneficial. Though unfairly blamed for weight gain or medical problems like diabetes, carbs make positive contributions by fueling our bodies to function, move and think. Even better, they contain fewer calories (less than half) than fats.
- Carbs can be in uncommon culprits too. Yes, we know our pastas are packed with them, but they are hiding in your favorite sweets too, even in amounts enough to affect your waistline.
- Carbs can act best when unrefined. The most nutritional bread, pasta and rice are comprised of whole grains, which contain fiber. Refined or processed grains used in white bread, white pasta and white rice eliminate the good stuff.
- Carbs can be fuel efficient. High glycemic index (GI) foods (white or whole wheat breads, white potatoes and cold cereals) are digested quickly, taking your energy levels down with them. Your body feeds off the energy provided by low GI foods longer, so foods like yams, oatmeal, fruits, and, yes, pasta and pumpernickel, can help keep you going.
- Carbs can be disciplined. If you can’t quite eliminate the high GI foods from your diet, that’s OK. But moderation, please. Overloading your system with bad carbs can upset your blood sugar–or your scales.