What’s So Great About Carbs?

What’s So Great About Carbs?

Two weeks out from the excesses of the holiday feed fest and it might be tempting to jump on the low carb train, headed for Skinny Town, alllll aboard…”no ma’am, I’m sorry, the dining car is NOT open.” January is obviously prime time for New Years resolutions of the nutritional kind. And carbohydrates consistently seem to get the brush off. Listen, nobody’s suggesting cinnamon buns for breakfast and shortbread for dinner but whether the goal is to shave a few pounds off your adult frame or to get the kids back on some semblance of a balanced eating plan, here’s why carbs should definitely remain in the mix.

The Harvard School of Public Health cautions against getting caught up in the low-carb hype, saying, “Don’t be misled by fad diets that make blanket pronouncements on the dangers of carbohydrates. They provide the body with fuel it needs for physical activity and for proper organ function”. But which carbohydrate sources you choose make a huge difference. “The best sources of carbohydrates—whole grains (the less processed, the better), vegetablesfruits and beans—promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fibre, and a host of important phytonutrients. Easily digested refined carbohydrates from white bread, white rice and other refined grains, pastries, sugared sodas, and other highly processed foods may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease”. (Source)

In fact, according to Health Magazine, eating the right kinds of carbs-ones that contain something called Resistant Starch-can actually speed up the weight loss process. They say resistant starch “helps you eat less, burn more calories, feel more energized and less stressed, and lower cholesterol”. (Source) You can find resistant starch in a number of carb rich foods, most notably in bananas, corn, potatoes, yams, pasta, pearl barley, whole grain bread, navy beans, oatmeal, lentils and brown rice. According to a Prevention Magazine article, “Resistant starch is bulky, so it takes up space in your digestive system. And because you can’t digest or absorb it, the starch never enters your bloodstream. That means it bypasses the fate of most carbohydrates, which get socked away as body fat”. (Source) And get this! “A recent multicenter study found that the slimmest people ate the most carbs, and the chubbiest ate the least. The researchers concluded that your odds of getting and staying slim are best when carbs make up to 64% of your total daily caloric intake.”

And while all this nutrition, disease fighting and even weight management is good for kids too, the big news for the little ones when it comes to carbs is brain power! According to The Franklin Institute, “Glucose is the only fuel normally used by brain cells. Because neurons cannot store glucose, they depend on the bloodstream to deliver a constant supply of this precious fuel. This blood sugar is obtained from carbohydrates: the starches and sugars you eat in the form of grains and legumes, fruits and vegetables”. They point to a “University of Toronto study (that) compared the memory-improving effects of different breakfasts eaten after an overnight fast. Participants who consumed a carbohydrate breakfast of potatoes or barley performed better on short- and long-term memory tests, compared to those who consumed only a glucose-laden lemon drink”. (Source)

Cinnamon Bun anyone….no, sorry, bad Kathy, bad. Whole grain toast with banana, anyone?

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