What Are Healthy Carbs?

If you’ve been paying attention to celebrity-endorsed fad diets recently, you’ve probably gotten the impression that carbohydrates (carbs) are to be avoided at all costs. Carbohydrates tend to get a bad rap, especially in this era of carb-restricting diets, like ketopaleo and Atkins.  But that’s really oversimplifying things.  

Carbs can have an important role to play in most people’s diets. That is, some carbs do at least. And knowing the difference between healthy carbs and less-than-healthy carbs is important. “People can gravitate to a no-carb diet because the rules are easy to follow,” notes Natalie Romito, RDN, LD. “Low- and no-carb diets are easy to understand. And people tend to like diets with hard-and-fast rules.” 

But following a low-carb or no-carb diet can mean missing out on some healthy (and delicious) foods. Better than trying to cut carbs completely, Romito suggests focusing on cutting back on processed carbs in favor of healthy carbs — that is, carbs you get from whole, natural foods. Romito explains the difference. 

In the simplest terms, carbs are fibers, starches and sugars. They’re the nutrients your body prefers to burn for fuel. Carbs are your body’s go-to energy source before it turns to less-efficient sources, like fat and protein.

Excerpted from Cleveland Clinic

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