Are carbohydrates your friend or foe? Given all the conflicting information you may be hearing about carbs, sometimes it’s hard to know. The truth is that we need carbohydrates in our diet and that not all carbohydrates (and carbohydrate-containing foods) are created equal. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them all equally; it just means that some provide more nutrition than others and should be eaten more often.
On this episode of DataDish: Your Trusted Serving of Science, Kris Sollid, RD, senior director of nutrition communications at the IFIC Foundation, helps us understand more about the role of carbohydrates and sugars in our diet and in our health.
- What are carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are the main sources of calories in most people’s diets. Many tend to think about foods like bread or pasta when they think of carbohydrates. Kris explains that there different sources and types of carbohydrates, including sugar and fiber.
- Are all carbs created equal? In a nutshell, no. All sugars are carbohydrates, but not all carbohydrates are sugars. For example, fiber and table sugar are both types of carbohydrates but are digested differently, and thus impact our health in different ways.
- Why do we need to eat carbs? Carbohydrates are our only source of fiber. In addition to fiber, carbohydrate foods provide vital nutrients like calcium, iron, B vitamins and vitamin E.
- How much carbohydrate should we be eating? This is one of the hottest topics of debate in nutrition science today. Some advocate for almost zero carbs or going keto, while others say that it depends. While there is no one recommendation for everybody, there is a recommended range of carbohydrate intake. Kris explains that both the type and amount of carbohydrate we eat matter.
- And what about sugar? When most people talk sugar, they mean added sugar. Most Americans eat too much added sugar. Listen for Kris’ take on choosing between eating healthy and eating added sugars.
Enjoy the podcast! And to learn more about carbohydrates and sugars, check out our latest resources: