By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA, CSCS
Healthy carbohydrates come primarily from plant-based sources and include vegetables, fruits, and grains. When consumed as a whole food, in an unprocessed state, naturally growing carbohydrates have many health benefits.
For example, ½ cup of oats contains roughly 30 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber and a total of 150 calories. The healthy carbohydrates from oats can provide you with steady energy and improve how your body digests food.
Healthy carbs are not the enemy!
Furthermore, moderate fruit consumption is healthy and full of nutrients even though it has a higher sugar content than vegetables and grains. Collectively, plant-based carbohydrates can help prevent heart disease, boost your immune system and provide you with daily energy.
Processed carbohydrates are devastating to your health
On the contrary, processed carbohydrates can be very devastating to your health from head to toe. Americans typically consume large quantities of processed carbs, mostly because they are convenient, cheap and abundantly found in any grocery store or local food mart.
In addition to their convenience, processed carbohydrates are heavily marketed to Americans and the marketing campaigns are focused on kids at an early age. If you noticed, products like breakfast cereals and sports drinks have kid-friendly characters promoting the product and the slogans are designed to lure kids in.
Processed carbohydrates have negative inflammatory effects on our bodies
The problem with processed carbohydrates or high sugar content drinks is that the carbs, when consumed, have negative inflammatory effects all throughout the body. This literally means that your body swells, in various places, when digesting these foods.
Over time, continuous consumption of bad carbohydrates can lead to swelling and cause your body to be at an increased risk of many chronic diseases, even cancer, and heart disease. This inflammatory effect is called systemic inflammation and is common in Type II diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
Current research is showing that eating a diet rich in processed or unhealthy carbohydrates can increase systemic inflammation and these individuals have a nearly two times greater odds of being at risk for cancer.
Eat a healthy diet rich in plant-based carbohydrates
A sound recommendation is to eat a healthy diet rich in protein, healthy fats, and plant-based carbohydrates. Most healthy carbohydrates are found around the perimeter of the grocery store and in the refrigerated section. On the contrary, processed carbohydrates are found all throughout the center aisles at your local market. Be smart and be advised about the negative health effects of eating excessive processed carbohydrates.
Shivappa, N., Hébert, J. R., Paddock, L. E., Rodriguez-Rodriguez, L., Olson, S. H., & Bandera, E. V. (2018). Dietary inflammatory index and ovarian cancer risk in a New Jersey case–control study. Nutrition, 46, 78-82.