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Confused About Fats and Carbs? You’re Not Alone

A lot of attention has been given to how carbohydrates like refined sugars are bad for you. But what about other carbs? And how do fats fit into the picture? Answers to both these questions were covered in an article in the New York Times. The good news is that, according to the article, a balanced diet can include both carbs and fats—the key is to distinguish healthy carbs and fats from unhealthy ones. Confusion over carbs and fats began decades ago when researchers linked a diet high in saturated fat to heart disease. Americans responded by cutting back on all types of fats, and by increasing their intake of refined carbs. That shift has contributed to an epidemic of diabetes and obesity, since refined carbs (including sugar) tend to be as bad as, or worse than, saturated fats. Here’s a breakdown of which fats and carbs are healthy choices:

  • Monounsaturated fats. Fats found in vegetarian foods like olive oil and nuts don’t seem to raise cholesterol levels. They actually appear to benefit our hearts—olive oil, for example, has been associated with improved blood vessel function.
  • Complex carbs. Complex carbs, like whole grains, have a lower glycemic load, which means they don’t rapidly raise blood sugar levels. Refined carbs, on the other hand, have a high glycemic load and more rapidly raise blood sugar levels. Researchers have shown an association between high glycemic foods and negative health effects, such as increased insulin resistance.

Thus, a truly healthy diet will include plenty of healthy monounsaturated fats and focus on lower glycemic, complex carbs while minimizing high glycemic, refined carbs.

Source: New York Times

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