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October 2017 Issue

High-Carb Diets Are Not So Bad

Carbs are routinely painted as the “evil nutrient,” responsible for everything from weight gain to heart attacks. However, this top diet myth is not grounded in science. Rather than focusing on total carbohydrates, experts recommend focusing on quality of carbohydrates. While highly processed carbs, including added sugars and refined grains, may be linked with health risks, minimally processed carbohydrate food sources, including whole grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables, are linked with health benefits. In fact, most indigenous, traditional diets are rich in minimally processed carbohydrate foods.

A new study, which included 245 healthy, non-obese Chinese adults, indicates that a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet may be beneficial (EBioMedicine, 2017). In the study, the high-carbohydrate/low-fat diet showed better results in lowering cardiometabolic risks, including decreases in weight, waste circumference, and levels of blood cholesterol, compared with a moderate-fat/moderate-carbohydrate diet, and a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet. Interestingly, in China people have shifted away from the traditional Chinese diet (which is naturally low in fat and high in carbohydrates) and have experienced a rise in obesity and chronic disease rates. It looks like returning to healthful, traditional eating patterns is the way to go, no matter where you live.