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There’s a lot of talk (and has been for years) about the benefits of carb-free diets (think Atkins, South Beach, etc.).  Some people swear by them as a way to lose weight fast and keep it off, while others say, yes, cut back on some carbs but don’t throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater.  So, what are they talking about with “good carbs” and “bad carbs”?

According to Web, MD, bad carbs are foods that are high in refined sugar and/or  processed carbohydrates that strip away beneficial fiber (like white bread and white rice).  Good carbs?  Do such things exist?  Actually, yes they do, and in abundance; although it doesn’t seem that way, quite often, because the term “carbs” is so frequently vilified.  Carbohydrates seem to be associated with all things fattening and bad, so it’s no wonder that so many people are lining up to go “carb free.”  But are they really carb free and do they really want to be?  Very often, no–they want to be “carb good.”

You see, good carbs are fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains—and why would anyone want to cut those out of their diet?  Carbohydrates, quite simply (according to Laura Dolson), are “a component of food that supplies energy (calories) to the body. One of the three macronutrients (along with proteins and fats). Three broad categories of carbohydrates are sugars (also called simple carbohydrates), starches (also called complex carbohydrates), and fiber.”  Sounds simple, right?  Some are.  Carbohydrates are broken down into two groups: simple and complex.  Simple carbohydrates are fruit sugar (fructose), corn or grape sugar (dextrose or glocase) and table sugar (sucrose).  Complex carbohydrates are anything made of three or more linked sugars.  It used to be thought that the best carbs to eat were complex carbohydrates, but now we know that things are more complicated than that.

Carbs are a healthy part of a normal diet.  Saying that all carbs are bad is like saying that all fats are bad.  Today, we know that both of these statements are untrue, and so maybe what we should be doing is learning more, becoming more involoved and knowledgeable consumers, and observing moderation.  Novel, huh?  Where is the evil in vegetables?  Fruits?  Whole grains?  Unless you have a specific medical condition that precludes you from eating any of these, more than likely, you can benefit from the other nutrients and minerals they provide.  Tomatoes are carbs, but don’t we want their lutein, their beta carotene, their incredible nutritional benefits?  Doesn’t your body need the vitamin C and selenium of broccoli?  The folate in apples?  Of course!  But maybe the best way to get your apples is not in a piece of apple pie a la mode.

It’s common sense, isn’t it?  The Harvard School of Public Health admits that there are studies suggesting that people lose weight faster on low-carb and no-carb diets, but they also point out that if you look closely at these studies, you’ll see that the study groups involved didn’t follow this diet down to the letter.  In fact, most claims that low-carb/no-carb diets take weight off faster and keep it off seem to be, once thoroughly researched, dubious at best.  But don’t just listen to us—do your own research before you go down the no-carb road.

We try our best everyday to lay out a menu that caters to the whole body—fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and rice products, as well as meats and other proteins.  We have a dessert menu too, but we think you’ll notice that it’s considerably smaller than breakfast and lunch—as it should be.  These are the carbs we think twice (and maybe 3 times) about.  Come see us for your fresh-from-the-garden, right-off-the-tree carbs—they’re our favorite kind.   See you soon!