carbohydrates what are they

Carbohydrates And Their Impact On Your Health

Carbohydrates And Their Impact On Your Health


What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibres found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. Though often maligned in trendy diets, carbs — one of the basic food groups — are important to a healthy life.

Carbohydrates are macro-nutrients, meaning they are one of the three main ways the body obtains energy, or calories

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Carbs provide your body with energy that is required to carry bodily functions and physical activity. However, not all carbohydrates sources are equally nutritious. Unlike unprocessed carbohydrates, refined carbs have been processed and lack health-promoting components such as dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Americans consume more than the recommended amount of refined carbohydrates, which is no more than 3 ounces per day for a 2,000-calorie diet. Learning about the risks of eating processed carbohydrates may motivate you to make wise dietary decisions.

Carbohydrates And Their Impact On Your Health (an excessive amount)

Stroke and Obesity

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016 analysed the eating habits and instances of stroke in over 64,000 middle-aged Chinese women with no history of diabetes, cancer or heart disease. The researchers found a significant link between diets rich in refined grains and stroke risk. Another study, published in Genetics Research in 2015 linked a high-carbohydrate diet with abdominal obesity. Fat that accumulates in this area is associated with heart disease, certain types of cancer and stroke.

Increased Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your fat tissue and bloodstream. Eating a sugar-rich diet can increase your triglyceride levels, which may elevate your risk of heart disease. Many processed carbohydrate sources contain high amounts of added sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup, cane syrup and honey. Unfortunately, according to, most Americans eat about 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, which vastly exceeds the daily recommended maximum of 6 to 9 teaspoons.

Risk of Chronic Diseases

Processed carbohydrates, such as white pasta, white bread and white rice, are rich in rapidly digested carbohydrates. That means they have a high glycemic index and glycemic load. Such foods cause rapid fluctuations in insulin and blood sugar, causing hunger to spike and leading to overeating. Over time, this increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease. In contrast, unprocessed carbohydrates are digested at a slower pace in your body than their refined counterparts. As a consequence, they have a gentler effect on your insulin and blood sugar, which may help you feel satiated.

Healthy Alternatives

The Harvard School of Public Health states that when it comes to preventing chronic diseases and maintaining a stable weight, carbohydrate quality takes precedence over carbohydrate quantity. Therefore, for optimal health, choose whole grains such as barley, brown rice, rye, quinoa and whole-wheat bread(in moderation) over French fries or refined white bread. These foods can also help improve blood sugar control and appetite control. Furthermore, swapping unhealthier sources of carbohydrates for unprocessed or minimally processed vegetables, fruits and beans will deliver fibre, vitamins, minerals and a number of phytonutrients, thereby promoting good health.

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For people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes(like myself) the best practice is to give up all white carbohydrates(rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, wheat products, grains etc.) All these may spike your blood sugar levels(my personal experience)

About Lukas G

Founder of - Fighting Type 2 Diabetes.

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