Oftentimes the connotation implied with the word “carbohydrate” is a negative one. People believe that eating too many carbs will lead to weight gain. Although there is some truth to that, carbohydrates are actually the body’s main source of energy and are essential to a healthy diet. It is important to decipher the good carbs from the unhealthy ones.
There are many carbohydrates that can be considered unhealthy, as they contain far too much sugar. These foods include white rice, white bread, pastries, and sugary sodas. An Emergency medical specialist, Dr. Benjamin Cory Harow suggests that these “junk food” carbohydrates be eliminated from any diet as much as humanly possible, especially if a person is trying to eat healthier.
That being said, there are many benefits to keeping healthy carbs like whole grains, quinoa, wheat, oats, vegetables, and fruits in a person’s diet. Studies have shown that eating more of these carbs can better mental health. They increase energy and promote the production of serotonin in the body, therefore boosting overall mood. People who eat these carbs are less likely to be depressed, anxious, or angry.
Soluble-fiber carbohydrates, specifically ones like oatmeal, brown rice, and beans/legumes, are also beneficial to heart health. People who consume healthy amounts of these carbs typically have lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind of cholesterol), and higher HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind). Beyond that, fiber can also help to keep from gaining weight. Soluble-fibers promote healthy gut bacteria and can lead to a loss in belly fat as they reduce appetite and hunger as well.
Including the right kinds of carbohydrates in a person’s diet can ensure a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Benjamin Cory Harow suggests that along with making this change, that the inclusion of regular exercise is essential for a body’s overall well-being. Not only is it important to make sure to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, but eating carbs after a workout is a great way to make sure that the body heals properly. This is true because carbohydrates stimulate muscle protein synthesis. This not only improves recovery if the muscles are overextended, but can also improve performance for the following day’s exercise. By eating these post-workout carbs there is an allowance for the body to store and create any energy it may have lost from its workout.
Another benefit of eating the right carbohydrates is that they stimulate brain function and can boost memory. Carbs are broken down by the body and turned into glucose, which is in turn used as brain fuel. This fuel is then used to advocate for both better short-term and long-term memory functions.
The common misconception that carbs are unhealthy or may cause weight gain is just that – a misconception. Including healthy carbohydrates in a person’s daily routine allows for the body to create stored energy, boost physical performance, reduce poor cholesterol, and improve mental health and memory function.