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Are carbohydrates healthy to eat?

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics

Your body is like a machine and it needs fuel. Carbohydrates give your body the “fuel” or energy it needs to continue working. Thus, carbohydrates are not evil. They can be healthy to eat. There are three things to keep in mind, however.

  • Carbohydrates are part of a healthy diet. A healthy diet is a balanced diet that includes foods from all food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, protein, and healthy fats/oils.
  • Though carbohydrates are found in different food groups (vegetables, starchy vegetables/starches, fruits, milk, and grains), not all carbohydrates are equal. Simple carbohydrates include sugars that are added during food processing and refining. Limit or avoid these added sugars since they come with few nutrients and little to no fiber. Complex carbohydrates, however, give your body’s digestive system some work to do. Your body must break through the starch and dietary fiber in order to get the glucose, or sugar, it needs from the food. Thus, a healthy diet will include carbohydrate sources that are high in fiber and nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 
  • Eat the right portion of your carbohydrate-containing food (and every food for that matter). A portion is the amount of each type of food on your plate. A great rule of thumb is to devote half of your plate to non-starchy vegetables and fruit, one-fourth to protein, and one-fourth to starchy carbohydrates (beans, peas, corn, squash, and grains). Add a glass of low fat milk or a cup of yogurt to your meal.
Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics

Carbohydrates in moderation play an important role in a healthy diet. They provide your body's cells with the energy needed to function properly. Try to limit your diet to unrefined carbohydrates such whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils.

Continue Learning about Carbohydrates and Health

How Does the Body Use Carbohydrates?
How Does the Body Use Carbohydrates?
Why Should I Avoid Eating Refined Carbohydrates?
Why Should I Avoid Eating Refined Carbohydrates?
What's the Difference Between Refined Carbohydrates and Slow Sugars?
What's the Difference Between Refined Carbohydrates and Slow Sugars?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.