Low-fat lattes, egg white omelets, skim milk. Unfortunately, many “health-conscious” people make these food choices every day. We understand why. If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, your refrigerator was probably filled with low-fat products. Hoping to achieve health and reduce waistlines, people turned their backs on fat and killer carbs took it’s place.
News flash: It’s not fat’s fault. Dare we declare that it’s not cholesterol’s fault either? Diets rich in processed carbohydrates have stored fat secretly, leaving Americans fat, sick, and tired. In fact, carbs are killing you.
What is a carbohydrate?
Simply put, carbohydrates are sugar molecules. Made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, carbohydrates are the primary energy source for the body. Along with fat and protein, it is one of the essential macronutrients needed for survival.
Carbohydrates are a byproduct of photosynthesis, occurring as plants turn energy from the sun into chemical energy. This energy is stored in a plant as a carbohydrate. As humans and animals eat these plants, they take in the carbohydrates.
When a person eats a carbohydrate, it gets converted into glucose in the body. As glucose levels rise in the bloodstream, the pancreas produces insulin. Insulin then pushes glucose into the cells to use as energy. When an individual eats more carbohydrates than they use for energy, it gets stored as fat.
Not all carbs are created equal
Carbs come from plants and the sun, so they are healthy. Right? Not so fast. In their closest-to-nature state, carbohydrates are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and energy. However, most carbohydrates at the grocery store today are nothing like their natural state. Carbohydrates can fall into two categories:
- Simple carbohydrates:
As the name implies, simple carbohydrates have a basic chemical structure. Simple carbs are easily digestible and typically lower in vitamins and minerals than complex carbohydrates.
These simple sugars quickly make their way to the bloodstream, spiking blood glucose levels. Because they are processed so fast, they often leave us hungry after eating them.
While simple carbohydrates are found naturally in fruits and dairy, most simple sugars in the American diet derive from processed and refined sugar, such as candy, baked goods, and soda.
- Complex carbohydrates:
Also called starches, complex carbohydrates are made of long chains of sugar molecules. Unlike simple carbs, complex carbohydrates contain fiber. While fiber is also a carbohydrate, it’s not digested and absorbed. Instead, it helps slow absorption of the carbohydrate, leaving you feeling fuller longer and keeping blood sugar levels steady.
Complex carbs can be found in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes. They also make up grains such as white bread, pizza, and pasta.
What’s the problem with carbohydrates?
Just as fat had a bad rap, carbohydrates are now the enemy du jour in many health circles. Low-carb and ketogenic diets are all the rage, with many people eliminating carbs for weight loss and health. And, truth be told, there is some merit to the claim — carbs might be killing you.
A recent study found that when compared to those with low carb consumption, high carb eaters had close to a 30 percent increased risk of death. What’s more, they discovered that higher-fat diets resulted in lower mortality and stroke risk.
The problem is not necessarily carbohydrates themselves, but rather the type of carbs being consumed. A diet high in simple sugars stimulates the liver to produce triglycerides, a fat that circulates in the bloodstream.
These fats are transported through the body by very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). Over time, these VLDLs become dangerous to the body. Bagels, processed baked goods, and sugar-laden beverages all contribute to an increased risk of heart disease.
On the other hand, complex carbohydrates in their original form have an important place in a healthy diet. In fact, they are a rich source of essential vitamins, minerals, and energy.
These carbs are killing you — make a better choice
Everything in moderation. It’s a saying most of us have used when making a less-than-ideal health choice. While enjoying an occasional treat is part of life, certain foods should be off-limits. Below are nine carbs that are killing you and what you can substitute in their place.
Pasta is loaded with carbohydrates you should avoid. For example, just one cup of spaghetti contains 43 carbs. Even more concerning, most pasta is made from refined carbohydrates, meaning that it is highly processed and stripped of all nutrients.
Try this instead: If you are craving Italian food, substitute the pasta for zucchini “noodles” or spaghetti squash. Serve with grass-fed meatballs and top with your favorite marinara, and you’ll be in heaven. Pasta. What pasta?
Most people can’t imagine starting their day without a cup of joe. And the truth is: there’s nothing wrong with enjoying coffee as part of your daily routine. Meeting a friend for coffee or enjoying a cup while reading a good book is one of the joys of life.
Where things go wrong, however, is when we turn our antioxidant-rich beverage into dessert. Blended coffees from popular coffee shops pack as many as 65 grams of sugar and 70 carbs per beverage. Not to mention, these drinks are loaded with artificial ingredients and toxins.
Try this instead: Organic coffee is a healthy beverage for most people. You can create your own blended drink right at home. Try mixing Cardiology Coffee with organic almond milk and a splash of maple syrup for a delicious treat.
Alternatively, you can combine cold coffee with ice, organic raw milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, and a squeeze of honey in a blender. The options are endless.
The 100 Year Heart Diet encourages organic, grass-fed meat such as beef and pork. But unfortunately, many turn to unhealthy condiments to enhance the flavor of their food.
Ketchup, barbecue sauce, and relish are often sneaky ways that unhealthy carbs make it onto your plate. For example, just two tablespoons of barbecue sauce contain 15 grams of carbs and approximately the same amount of sugar. Even worse, many are loaded with dangerous high fructose corn syrup.
Try this instead: Try substituting homemade tomato jam or salsa for ketchup. Better yet, try your hand at your own barbecue sauce recipe! You can find many simple recipes with healthy ingredients such as apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, and ground mustard. Make ahead and store in the fridge for easy dinner prep!
For years, nutritionists have cited breakfast as the most important meal of the day. While that assertion is debatable, one thing is not: starting your day with a box of refined carbs and sugar is far from healthy. In addition to being high in carbs, most breakfast cereals contain unhealthy preservatives, artificial colors, and partially hydrogenated oils.
Try this instead: When having eggs and avocados for breakfast gets old, try a homemade cereal like the one below:
- 1 cup homemade nut milk
- ¼ cup soaked nuts or pre-sprouted nuts (Brazil, macadamia, pecan, walnut, almond, or hazelnuts).
- 2-3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes or shredded coconut
- Sprinkle of raw cacao nibs
- 1-2 tablespoons chia seeds
Acai breakfast bowls are a trendy fitness fad that has swept the nation. At first glance, these smoothies in a bowl appear healthy. Packed with fruit and topped with granola, chocolate nibs, and even more fruit, we can understand where the confusion lies.
Unfortunately, smoothies are simple sugars with as many as 50 grams of carbs. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate fruit sparingly, and it would behoove us to follow their lead.
Try this instead: Smoothies are not out of the question, but they must be organic and homemade. This way, you know exactly what ingredients are included. Be certain to add greens and nut milk to help balance the carbohydrate load. Avocados are a great addition as the fiber will help slow digestion.
Let’s face it. There are moments when the only thing that will satisfy a craving is something salty and crunchy. Sadly, reaching for that bag of chips will cost you dearly. One eight-ounce bag of potato chips contains a whopping 120 grams of carbs that could kill you. And let’s face it, eating an entire bag is not difficult. To make things worse, this low-nutrient food is packed with unhealthy vegetable oils.
Try this instead: Homemade kale chips are an excellent alternative to potato chips. Simply chop kale into bite-sized pieces, coat with coconut or olive oil, drizzle with a bit of salt, and pop them into the oven. The crunch will satisfy your taste buds, and the nutrition will fill your heart. Alternatively, thin slice your favorite veggies such as beets, sweet potatoes, or broccoli and crisp them in the air fryer.
There are few things more comforting than a slice of bread. However, most bread contains refined flour instead of healthy whole grains. Studies have found that eating processed grains, such as those found in bread and croissants, increased the risk of heart attack and death. In addition, bread and bagels are packed with carbs, low in fiber, and often full of toxins. In fact, one bagel contains nearly 50 grams of carbs and close to zero nutrients.
Try this instead: You don’t have to forgo bread altogether. However, you must choose organic bread with no refined grains or gluten. One of our favorites is Bread SRSLY. This gluten-free sourdough is organic, nutrient-dense, and delicious.
There are few things more delicious than a pizza. This easy, fast food is a Friday night staple in many households. However, any way you slice it, most pizza is pure junk food. Pizza crust is packed with refined carbs and is typically made with unhealthy oils. On average, pizza has 36 grams of carbs per slice. And let’s be honest: who eats just one piece of pizza?
Try this instead: A pizza craving can often be satisfied with a combination of tomato, basil, and a tiny sprinkle of cashew or raw milk cheese. However, if that doesn’t do the trick, you can create an Italian masterpiece with a cauliflower crust.
Yogurt has long been associated with gut health and bone strength, yet it’s often as unhealthy as ice cream. Plain, unflavored yogurt contains the naturally occurring sugar called lactose. However, most yogurt manufacturers pump their products with added sugar.
Try this instead: If the goal is to improve gut health, try other fermented foods such as raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut or kimchi. However, if it’s yogurt you’re after, there are many recipes for homemade, heart-healthy coconut yogurt.
In this day and age, everyone is looking for a quick fix. Consumers jump from one fad to another, hoping to achieve weight loss or health. Yesterday it was low-fat, and today it’s low carb. Who knows what it will be tomorrow? The problem with this approach is that it’s often temporary. Dieting is a short-term solution and often inadvertently creates more nutritional issues.
A lifestyle, on the other hand, is sustainable. It’s a value. It’s saying to yourself, “This is how I want to live.” By following a heart-healthy lifestyle, you simplify your life. Instead of counting carbs and worrying about how they could kill you, enjoy nutrient-dense food. In turn, your body receives the right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Eat Well · Live Well · Think Well
Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD