9 Reasons You Don’t Need to Fear Healthy Carbs
Carb intake is one of the most hotly debated topics in nutritional science. Carbs are now accused of causing weight gain, heart disease, and various other problems.
It’s true that junk foods tend to be high in carbs — particularly refined carbs — and that low-carb diets can be incredibly beneficial, especially for weight loss, diabetes, and certain other health conditions. However, not all carb sources are created equal. Refined carbs can be harmful in high amounts, but whole-food sources of carbs are very healthy. In fact, many of the world’s healthiest foods are fairly high in carbs.
Here are 9 reasons why you don’t need to fear all carbs.
1. Carbs Are Not Uniquely Fattening
Scientists once hypothesized that carbs increased the risk of obesity more than fat and protein. Carbs may raise insulin levels, which promotes the storage of calories as fat which increases the risk of obesity. However, no compelling evidence supports the idea that high-carb diets are especially fattening. Nevertheless, healthy low-carb diets have been proven effective for weight loss — at least in the short term (6).
In short, the quality of the carbs you eat is of greater importance than the proportion of carbs in your diet. Thus, you should avoid eating a lot of sugar and other refined carbs, and instead focus on whole, carb-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, roots, and tubers.
2. Early Humans Frequently Ate Carbs
Yet, new evidence indicates that carb-rich foods like root vegetables, legumes, and even grains were cooked and consumed by human ancestors as well, long before they started farming.
3. Gluten Intolerance Affects Few People
A gluten-free diet is necessary for the small number of people with celiac disease or some other types of autoimmune disease or for people with gluten sensitivity or wheat intolerance. However, studies indicate that few people with self-reported gluten sensitivity have this condition at all.
4. Fiber — a Carbohydrate — Is Important for Optimal Health
Most dietary fiber is made of carbohydrates. Eating fiber is good for your health, particularly for heart health and weight management.
5. Gut Bacteria Rely on Carbs for Energy
Eating soluble fiber may play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
6. Legumes Are a Superfood — on a Nutrient-To-Cost Basis
Legumes are incredibly healthy and they are naturally high in carbs. They’re rich in protein, fiber, and other valuable nutrients.
7. Cutting Carbs Does Not Improve Exercise Performance
Athletes don’t perform better on low-carb diets than higher-carb ones. Performance is similar for endurance but worse for sprinting if you’ve cut down on carbs.
8. Carbs Don’t Cause Brain Damage
There is no evidence linking whole carb sources to brain damage or diseases like Alzheimer’s. In fact, the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in whole grains, is linked to improved brain health.
9. The World’s Longest-Lived Populations Eat Plenty of Carbs