If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “Carbs are the enemy,” that person was right. When it comes to dieting and losing weight, many of us will reduce or cut carbohydrates from our diet as they are often attributed to weight gain.
Technically speaking, our bodies do require some level of carbohydrates as it helps promote energy, but there’s a large difference between choosing good and bad carbs, and unfortunately, many of us opt for the latter.
Aside from weight loss purposes, there may be another reason to limit your intake of carbs, and it has to do with your heart.
Carbohydrates worse for your heart than fat
The study explored the eating habits of 125,000 people from 18 different countries. The researchers found that carbohydrates, not fat, have a greater adverse effect on the heart. Based on their findings, the researchers proposed that the ideal diet consists of roughly 50 to 55 percent carbohydrates and 35 percent fat.
But not all fat is made equally.
When doctors recommend consuming fat, they are recommending monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat like what’s found in olive oil and avocados.
The limitation of the study is that for people living in poorer countries, carbohydrates like rice, bread, and beans are diet staples. Study author Mahshid Dehghan explained, “The current focus on promoting low-fat diets ignores the fact that most people’s diets in low and middle-income countries are very high in carbohydrates, which seem to be linked to worse health outcomes.”
“In low and middle-income countries, where diets sometimes consist of more than 65 percent of energy from carbohydrates, guidelines should refocus their attention toward reducing carbohydrate intake, instead of focusing on reducing fats,” Dehghan added.
Similar to the variety of fats, there are different types of carbohydrates, with some being better than others. For example, whole grains are often hailed as a “good” carb. Carbs that are processed and bleached offer little nutritional value, but unfortunately, in poorer areas, these types of carbohydrates are far more common.
Registered dieticians and wellness manager at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute Kristin Kirkpatrick added, “The data makes sense, especially in light of the authors comment that the survey was taken in areas where carbohydrate quality was low [likely carb sources that include sugar, fried foods, and foods made with refined grains].”
Kirkpatrick recommends that in place of low-quality carbs, people consume better quality fats instead.
Even among diabetics, it is a far better option to consume high-quality fats as opposed to low-quality carbs, as fat has little impact on glucose levels.
The study even offered up some recommendations regarding fruits and vegetables. The study found that you should really stick to three to four servings of vegetables a day. This serving is associated with health benefits along with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Kirkpatrick continued, “From the perspective of the fruits, vegetables, and legumes, we need to focus on the fact that most Americans are not reaching even these minimum standards. The message should perhaps not be to eat less to get the same benefit, but rather something more attainable, such as ‘try to eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal.’”
Another great way to increase your vegetable intake and improve your carb intake is by using vegetables in place of carbs. For example, shredding cauliflower to make rice or spiraling zucchini in place of noodles.