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What is the deal with carbohydrates? Since dieting became all the rage, there has become somewhat of a negative stigma surrounding carbs. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I hear the word “carbs” my mind automatically links it with “calorie”. There is an immediate negative correlation between unhealthy eating and carbohydrate intake. Many diets even encourage the limiting of carbohydrates such as the keto diet, low carb high fat, Atkins, and many more. 

So, this raises a big question: Is eating a large number of carbohydrates correlated with having an unhealthy diet? 

Well, let’s break down the different types of carbohydrates:


Simple carbohydrates

These carbohydrates are essentially sugar and are found in many fruits and vegetables but also in some refined and processed foods.


Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbs are bulkier due to being longer chains of monosaccharides, which keep you fuller for longer and more energized.


Dietary Fiber

Dietary fibers are prebiotics and also increase the time of satiety due to dietary fibers moving very slowly through the gut, keeping your fuller for longer. 


It is important to keep these types of carbohydrates in mind because it can help with picking “healthier” carbs and less processed ones instead of attempting to cut the majority of carbs out all together. When maintaining a healthy diet, it is always a good idea to ensure the majority of your diet is made up of whole foods, not processed, and refined junk food/fast food. The same principle applies to carbohydrate intake. As long as an individual’s overall carb intake is made up of more complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber compared to simple carbs, then there is no reason why a health-conscious person should have to shy away from carbs in order to maintain a healthy diet (Medline Plus).


The problem with carbs comes into play when too much of an individual’s carbohydrate intake is made up of unhealthy simple carbohydrates. While there are many simple carbs that are still healthy foods, such as fruits and certain vegetables, it is important to distinguish these from processed foods and adjust one’s diet accordingly. Everyone loves to treat their sweet tooth to a brownie or have Doritos as a pre-dinner snack. However, an important thing to remember is that processed foods are completely appropriate diet choices to enjoy, but with this food type, moderation is key. In order to maintain a healthy diet, it is important to eat a wide variety of  foods, including different types of carbohydrates, and ensuring the majority of carbohydrate intake is not from simple carbohydrates, especially processed/fast foods.


Although different people choose to consume different diets, it is important to remember that it is not necessary, and maybe not even healthy, to steer clear of carbohydrates, as they are an essential macronutrient that are very important to your body’s wellbeing. 


There are even many foods that contain healthy carbohydrate choices such as (healthine):

  • Quinoa

  • Oats

  • Beans

  • Chickpeas

  • Whole grains

  • Rice

  • And many more!


The bottom line is that it is important to remember that foods with high amounts of carbohydrates are not automatically “unhealthy” foods. When deciding what food choices to make if you are focusing on maintaining a healthy diet, go for the complex carbs and dietary fibers instead of completely steering clear of carb-heavy foods. Your body will thank you!



“Complex Carbohydrates: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia Image.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19529.htm. 

Eat This, Not That! Editors. “The 24 Best Healthy Carbs For Weight Loss.” Eat This Not That, Eat This Not That, 15 Oct. 2020, www.eatthis.com/carbs-that-uncover-your-abs/. 

Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Can a Low-Carb Diet Help You Lose Weight?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 29 Aug. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/low-carb-diet/….

Halle is a sophomore at NCSU as a nutrition science major. She loves running, fitness, and has a strong passion for dietary wellness!
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