Dangers of Refined Carbs
Not all carbs are created equal. Sugars, starches, and fiber are carbohydrates and not all carbohydrates are bad for you. In fact, our bodies need some carbohydrates. Just as we need certain fats to live, we need a certain amount of carbohydrates in our diets to keep our brains, red blood cells, and other body parts working well, says food science and nutrition professor Joanne Slavin. "If we don't get enough carbohydrates, our bodies will break down protein to get them," she says.
The question, however, is what kind of carbohydrates do we need? Research is beginning to show that simple carbs are worse for us than complex carbs. In fact, overweight people eat more refined ("bad") carbohydrates than those who weigh less.
Plus, they are worse for you. A journal article in the Annals of Internal Medicine recently reported Two new studies suggest that eating simple or refined carbohydrates with a high glycemic index-- like white bread and rice -- raise the risk of type 2 diabetes. But eating whole grains (complex carbs) like bran cereal and oatmeal can lower that risk.
The glycemic index measures the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Foods with a high glycemic index, such as simple carbohydrates, cause a rapid rise and then decline in blood sugar levels; those with a low glycemic index, including whole grains, are absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream and have a more gradual effect on blood sugar levels.
As you consider your carb intake, focus on those found in breads, crackers, pastas, and cereals made with whole wheat, along with fruits and vegetables.
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