Here's Why You Should Avoid Refined Carbs

Carbs have been a hot topic in the diet world for many years, dating back to the 1960's with the creation of the low carb Atkins diet, founded by cardiologist Robert C. Atkins (via the Mayo Clinic). There have been many reinvented versions of low carb-focused programs, from the Zone diet to the newly popular Keto craze, and while there are benefits such as weight loss and balanced blood sugar levels, alarming new research gives us more of a reason to avoid refined carbs (via Live Science). 

According to Insider, refined, (or processed) carbohydrates like cereals, cookies, and white bread can be damaging to more than just your waistline. Recent research published in the BMJ suggests that these refined carbs can increase your risk of heart disease, too. The study out of St. John's Research Institute in India, published in February 2021, evaluated the eating habits, lifestyles, and demographics of 137,000 participants worldwide. Upon a follow up nearly ten years later, researchers found that those who ate refined carbs such as white bread daily, were at a 33 percent higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke and a 27 percent higher risk of dying during the study than those who ate a minimal amount of refined carbs (via Insider). 

Refined carbs are linked to multiple health problems

A similar global study from 2017 evaluated the lifestyle and diet of 135,335 participants with a follow up seven and a half years later and found that a higher daily intake of refined carbs correlated with 5,796 deaths (via the Lancet). This information is further supported by many studies which show that a diet high in processed carbs is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease (per Healthline). Research shows a correlation between a diet high in refined carbs and type 2 diabetes symptoms such as insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels. Other studies report that eating refined carbs can cause high triglyceride levels. Both type 2 diabetes and high triglyceride levels can put you at risk for developing heart disease, not to mention, those who consume processed carbs on a daily basis are two to three times more likely to develop heart disease than those who do not (via Healthline). 

Of course not all carbohydrates are unhealthy. Nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains are great choices because they are filled with vitamins, minerals, and fiber (per Harvard Health Publishing). When choosing your foods, avoid refined carbs and processed, sugary carbs, and instead choose whole foods like vegetables and lean proteins (via WebMD).