This is something I often struggle with. What is too much or what isn't enough when it comes to carbs? Are these good carbs or bad? Yahoo gives us the scoop on the good and the bad when it comes to carbs period!
Carbs are like the Taylor Swift of the food world: They’re polarizing. Some people avoid them at all costs, while others don’t dare imagine a life without them. So what’s the deal? Are they OK in moderation? What about “good carbs” and “bad carbs”? Let’s dig in.
First of All, What Are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates, or carbs, are molecules that have carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. In nutrition,carbsrefers to one of the three macronutrients. There are three broad groups of carbs:
Monosaccharides:The most basic form of carbohydrate, including glucose and fructose.
Disaccharides:Two monosaccharide molecules bonded together, including lactose and sucrose.
Polysaccharides:Chains of more than two monosaccharide molecules bonded together, including fiber and starch.
The main purpose of carbohydrates in the diet is to provide energy. Most carbs are broken down or transformed into glucose, which can be used as energy. Carbs can also be turned into fat (stored energy) for later use. Fiber is an exception to the rule: It doesn’t provide energy directly, but rather feeds the friendly bacteria in the digestive system. These bacteria can use the fiber to produce fatty acids that some of our cells can use as energy.
What’s the Difference Between “Good” and “Bad” Carbs?
Instead of viewing certain carbs as good or bad (which can be counterproductive when it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship with food), let’s break carbohydrates down intosimpleandcomplex:
Simple carbohydrates:Monosaccharides and disaccharides make up the different types of sugars and are known as simple carbohydrates (or "bad" carbs). They provide a rapid source of energy. Examples of simple carbs include white bread and pasta, sugary drinks like soda and fruit juices, and pastries.
Complex carbohydrates:Polysaccharides like fiber and starch are known as complex carbohydrates (or "good" carbs). They contain longer chains of molecules that take longer for the body to break down and digest. Examples of complex carbs include vegetables, fruits, legumes, potatoes and whole grains.
Well, there's some science to it...
Are All Carbs Bad?
While it’s technically true that the body can function without carbs, that doesn’t mean certain carbs can’t be beneficial when consumed responsibly. Many carb-containing foods are super-healthy and nutritious, like fruits and vegetables, which have tons of beneficial compounds and health benefits. (Duh.)
According to a study in The Lancet Public Health, a diet with moderate carbohydrate consumption lowers the risk of death more than both low- and high-carb diets. From the research, it was estimated that people who ate a moderate amount of carbs at age 50 had a life expectancy of around 83 years. That's compared to 82 for high-carb eaters and 79 for low-carb eaters. But what's “moderate”? A caloric intake of 50 to 55 percent carbohydrates was linked to the lowest risk of mortality. Why? Per the study, it might be that people on the high end of the scale are eating too many refined carbs (instead of whole grains and unrefined carbs), and those on the low end tend to swap carbs for dairy products and meat (instead of plant-derived proteins and fats).