The Truth about Carbohydrates

Now that summer is right around the corner, many people begin that oh-so-familiar diet to feel more comfortable in their bathing suit or other summer clothes. Dieting is largely unsuccessful long term because the diet often recommends restriction or complete avoidance of certain foods like carbohydrates. So, are carbs bad? The short answer is no.

We need carbohydrates for energy, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!

Carbohydrates provide the energy we need for our body and brain. If you are exercising, you need carbohydrates to provide energy to your muscles to keep you going and prevent fatigue. Ever get a headache because you haven’t eaten in a while? That’s your brain telling you to eat carbohydrates!

Fiber is a nutrient that is largely underrepresented in the diet, and we get much of that fiber from carbs. Fiber has an amazing capacity to help keep us full, prevent constipation, bind and remove cholesterol, and help promote a normal microflora in our GI tract. Fiber even helps to regulate blood sugar!

So, what are the best carbs to have?

  • All vegetables (yes, even potatoes)
  • Whole fruits
  • Beans and lentils
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds

Keep in mind, it is best to eat a variety of these foods and foods of various colors to provide loads of antioxidants and phytochemicals that help protect us against cancer.

Although the list above consists of the best carbohydrates to eat, it doesn’t mean you have to avoid the other types of carbs like your favorite cookie or sweet treat. Just eat these foods in moderation and watch your portion size!

Eating well is about balance, not about restriction. Before you try that popular diet going around the web, think twice and ask yourself if it is restrictive or is it sustainable.

Bridgette Bostic, R.D.N., is the community nutrition educator at the Tevis Center for Wellness. Check out her new online cooking series, Healthy Bites with Bridgette, each Wednesday at 5 p.m. Call Care Connect at 410-871-7000 to register or to learn more.

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