Personal Nutrition Guide

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Good vs. Bad Carbs: Don’t Trust the Processed

There’s been a lot of talk about good vs. bad carbs and plenty of confusion on the topic. Let’s say it once and for all: Carbohydrates aren’t inherently unhealthy. The key is understanding how foods that contain those carbs are produced.

The carbs we eat come from plants, and these plants find their way onto our plates in one of two forms:

  1. Naturally occurring whole-food sources like grains, fruits, and nuts, seeds, pulses (beans, peas and lentils), and vegetables
  2. Highly processed foods from which nutrients have been removed, and fat, sugar, and artificial ingredients are often added

The highly processed foods are the ones you want to avoid, says Andrea N. Giancoli, MPH, RD.

“You want carbohydrates that are as close as possible to the sources they come from,” she says. “People are afraid of potatoes, but they are a healthy carb when you cook and eat them as they are, with the skin on. They become less healthy when they are processed into puffs and chips with added fat, sodium and/or added sugars.”

Before you read further, see how much you know about “good” and “bad” carbs with our quiz!


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