Carbohydrates get a bad rap. There’s so much conflicting advice out there about if we should be eating them when we should be eating them, and which carbs we should be eating. It’s no surprise we’re confused.
Which myths are true, and which are lies? Read on to find out, and don’t feel guilty the next time you order a pizza from Food Panda home delivery or the next time you go to McDonald’s.
It’s all about the GI
Carbs are often referred to in terms of their ‘glycemic index,’ which refers to how long it takes for the body to process the food. The lower the glycemic index, the better, right? Not always. Some high-GI foods are packed with other nutrients such as fiber and protein, and some low-GI foods, like chocolate, have much lower nutritional value. Which do you think is a healthier choice?
Only complex carbs are good
We’re often told that we can eat carbs as long as they’re ‘complex’ carbs and that these are the only carbs that are good for you. This is simply untrue. White bread, for example, is a complex carbohydrate.
Simple carbohydrates, often much-maligned, can be just as good for you as the complex ones. Both apples and bananas are simple carbohydrates. How ‘good’ a carbohydrate is for you usually depends on how processed it is. Some complex carbohydrates, such as mass-produced whole-wheat bread, can be packed with additives to help it last longer. Clean unprocessed carbohydrates are always a better choice.
Limit fruit intake
Some diet plans state that we should limit our fruit intake because it’s high in sugar. Yes, fruits are carbs, and yes, they have high sugar content, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat them. The sugar we eat in fruit is all-natural, and it’s not the same as adding refined white sugar to your coffee. Fruit sugars aren’t the enemy, and studies have actually shown that eating a lot of fruit can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Fruit is also packed with delicious healthy fiber, so a snack of kiwi or strawberries will keep you fuller, longer.
The less carbs, the better
In recent years, low-carb diets have been believed to be healthier, but this isn’t the case. We need carbohydrates to function, and cutting them out of our diet entirely is just as unhealthy as cutting out fats or proteins (yes, we need fats, too!)
Carbohydrates are especially important if your diet plan includes a fitness regimen. It’s carbs that fuel the body for exercise. Don’t skip them. Making a healthy, balanced choice is always the best way to go.
All carbs are white
White carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, and potatoes have the worst reputation of all carbohydrates, with people thinking their high sugar content and high GI immediately leads to weight gain, but you guessed it. It isn’t true. Yes, existing solely on these kinds of foods will make you gain weight, but a little of everything in moderation is fine.
It’s also a myth that these starchy foods are the only kinds of carbohydrates. Carbs are found in whole grains, too, plus fruit, vegetables, and legumes. These healthier carbohydrates are lower in calories and have higher nutritional content.