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7 Carb Myths You Should Know

7 Carb Myths You Should Know

Oh, carbs. Love ’em or hate ’em…  who are we kidding? You love ’em. We all do. But are they good or bad for you? Well, it’s complicated.

With so much conflicting information out there, it’s hard to know what’s what. What was good has become evil and what was evil has become good in a dietary sense, and round and round we go.

Here are a few myths about carbs explained to help you navigate the nutritional seas.

1. Cereal is a heart-healthy breakfast

Cereal is a staple in what we we think of as “a balanced breakfast” because it’s “light”. But it’s composed of highly processed carbohydrates for easy eating, which are just as easily broken down to sugar in our bodies.

Some brands try to offset this fact by adding “oat clusters” or nuts, but they’re usually coated in some form of sugar. How did you think the clusters clustered?

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All those simple carbs and sugars can actually do damage to your heart according to the Cleveland Clinic.

2. Grains and legumes should be the base of a “healthy” diet

Remember the classic Food Guide Pyramid from the USDA? The one with grains and legumes dominating all along the bottom of the image? It’s out of date! The USDA Food Pyramid has been replaced by MyPlate.gov, a more comprehensive and vegetable heavy approach to eating a balanced meal.

Guess what you should actually be eating most of? Veggies of course!

3. Granola bars are a “healthy” option

Candy bars are bad and granola bars are good, right? Not so, I’m afraid.

Granola bars are compact little blocks of processed carbohydrates. Even if they’re composed of more slowly broken down grains like whole oats, (most aren’t) they’re held together by sweeteners from corn syrup to honey.

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You’re better off snacking on some raw nuts or maybe an avocado, both of which have sustaining healthy fats to hold you over and won’t spike your blood sugar.

4. Exercise is more important than watching carbs

Let’s face it, we all hate cutting carbs. They’re so comforting and delicious.

If you’re trying to loose weight, or just be healthier, they really are one of the first things that should be reduced. Some people exercise more rather that eat fewer carbs. Anything not to cut back!

But according to this article from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, that’s not the best method. Over the past 30 years, obesity has reached new highs. While our physical activity levels haven’t reduced much, our carbohydrate and sugar intake has increased considerably.

Some people even manage to maintain a healthy weight by exercising more, but the strain on the system from all that exertion as well as the inflammation caused in the body from eating too many carbs and sugars can put seemingly fit people at risk for hypertension, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and heart disease.

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5. Fruit has “healthy carbs” so you can eat as much as you want

You may think that “eating clean” means loading up on a big, fresh fruit salad first thing in the morning to get yourself started on the right foot. Not so fast.

Simple carbohydrates, be they the much-feared high fructose corn syrup, or regular old fructose occurring naturally in most fruit, will burn up quicker than a phoenix in the California hills.

This will spike your blood sugar and bring you crashing down just as if you ate a couple doughnuts. Not to say fruit is bad. Just that there’s always too much of even a good thing.

For a better start, have a protein based breakfast like an egg or some chia pudding with green veggies.

6. Gluten is the cause

Celiac disease is very real, and those who have it should absolutely avoid gluten. But for those who seem to experience gastrointestinal issues when eating glutenous grains and are not celiac, you could be misdiagnosing yourself as “gluten sensitive”.

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Recent studies have been pointing to the more likely possibility of a sensitivity to fructans, a carbohydrate found in some glutinous grains, garlic, artichokes and some fruits. There’s also evidence pointing to sensitivity to the lactose in some dairy products and galactans, which are found in some legumes.

It might be more complicated than simply a sensitivity to gluten. The particular details of this sensitivity are outlined in the diet movement known as FODMAPs. Read more about it here.

7. All carbs are the enemy

There are carbs in almost every food, even vegetables! Complex carbohydrates in grains and starchy veggies have health benefits and nutrients too.

A wide variety of foods consisting of mostly whole, low sugar options is ideal. Just do a little research into what carbs are better for you. (Spoiler alert, white bread and sugar will be on the naughty list). But you can enjoy whole grain or grain-free baked goods as occasional treats, even if you’re living a low carb lifestyle.

Variety makes life interesting. And who wants to live an uninteresting life? Happy conscious baking!

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Hannah Glenn

Copywriter and Editor

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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