Nutrition News: The Case for Carbohydrates
A new study finds that we really do need carbohydrates. For years, carbs have taken a bad rap as the popularity of Atkins and keto diets soared. The truth is carbs aren't bad: Complex carbs -- carbs with fiber -- are very much needed in a healthy diet pattern.
The study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, looked at data on food and nutrient intake and markers of metabolic syndrome from respondents in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2018. It included 19,078 respondents who were over 20 years old, had reliable and complete data on food and nutrient intake and markers of metabolic syndrome, and were not pregnant or breastfeeding.
Researchers, led by Dakota Dustin, a doctoral Student in the Department of Human Sciences at Ohio State University, found that carbohydrate intakes below recommendations (less than 45% of calories), with a high intake of fat, were associated with higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is characterized as having three of the following conditions: elevated waist?circumference, elevated triglycerides, reduced HDL (considered good cholesterol), elevated blood pressure or elevated plasma glucose.
Over one-third of adults in the U.S. have metabolic syndrome, and dietary carbohydrate intake may modify the likelihood of developing this condition. Researchers felt there is a lack of consistent evidence demonstrating the relationship between carbohydrate intake that falls below recommendations and metabolic syndrome.
Their findings showed those who had a carbohydrate intake below recommendations had 1.067 times greater odds of having metabolic syndrome compared to those who met carbohydrate recommendations. High intake of fat of any class was associated with higher odds of metabolic syndrome in those who had a carbohydrate intake below recommendations.
A healthy diet should consist of 45% to 55% carbohydrates, 20% to 35% fat and the remainder protein. Carbohydrates are present in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, nuts and seeds. The best-quality carbohydrates are those with fiber, considered complex carbohydrates.
The bottom line? We all need complex carbohydrates -- full of fiber -- in a healthy dietary pattern. Restricting or eliminating carbohydrates can lead to other health problems.
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