Are you eating too many carbs?

by Jane Underwood

Americans have long speculated as to whether carbohydrates are good or bad for their health. One of the reasons why this is being discussed is because around 25% of people in New York, including Roosevelt Island, are clinically obese. Are carbs part of the problem or is it a myth?

Adding to this confusion is the fact that many of the most popular weight loss diets out there involve restricting carb intake and sometimes quite drastically; which seems to send out the message that carbohydrates are not good for you. This article will look specifically at the role that carbohydrates play in our diet and how they can in fact be very beneficial to health.

The difference between High GI and Low GI foods

The main thing to be aware of in the carbohydrate debate is the difference between Low Glycaemic index (GI) carbs and High GI carbs, as this is what will ultimately determine whether a certain source of carbohydrates is good for you or not. Carbohydrates with a Low GI mean that your body takes longer to break the carbs down into simple sugars. This means you stay fuller for longer as well as maintain a healthy blood sugar level. 

Complex carbohydrates are the healthy option

The carbohydrates in Low GI foods are also referred to as complex carbs, they are healthier for you and give you energy over a longer time period. Simple carbohydrates on the other hand have a High GI. As a result, your body breaks them down quickly, causing a spike in blood sugar and an increased appetite. 

High GI carbs can have little to no nutritional value, and if consumed in high amounts it can lead to a range of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Depression and anxiety has also been linked to consuming High GI foods.

Carbohydrate restricting diets

Many people following diet plans today have at some point faced the common dilemma of keto vs. Atkins diet, which one should you choose? These are two of the most popular diets, both of which involve significantly restricting carbohydrate intake.

While cutting carbs has been linked to weight loss, increased energy, improved heart health and blood sugar control, there is no doubt that consuming carbohydrates to some extent plays an important role in a healthy diet. Which carbohydrates you consume and how much is the real key. 

Some examples of healthy carbohydrates

Examples of complex carbohydrates that have a Low Glycaemic Index include most fruits and veg, all wholegrain foods and some dairy products. These can be very beneficial to health as they contain fibre, calcium, iron and a whole range of vitamins include B vitamins. They also constitute the bodies main source of energy.

Unhealthy carbohydrates

Unfortunately, as you have probably guessed, this list includes a lot of the treat foods that we crave and can be hard to say no to, such as pastries, biscuits, cakes and any white starchy carbs such as white bread, pasta and rice. While it is not entirely necessary to cut them out altogether, intake should be restricted, and these foods should be seen as an occasional treat rather than forming a large portion of our diets.

What should you do?

Overall, what matters most for residents is to look at the quality of their diet and not necessarily the quantity. Carbs like fats and sugars, play a vital role in our bodily functions. We need them, but we should not eat them in excess. This means finding a balance when it comes to shopping for food on the island and when going out. The island’s eateries can be enjoyed to the max when this balance is kept to.