Why eat carbs at all?

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A basic review of Nutrition 101 reminds us that carbohydrates play a critical role in preserving human health. The major reason for consuming carbohydrates is to provide glucose for the energy needs of our brain and central nervous system. The B-vitamins supplied by carbohydrate-rich foods also help to keep our skin and hair healthy; help minimize depression and nerve dysfunction; and play a critical role in building healthy blood cells. The fiber provided by carbohydrate-rich foods keep our intestinal system working efficiently, too.

Contrary to current eating fashion, most people, dieters included, should not focus on avoiding carbohydrates. Yes, people should cut down on nutritionally-marginal, carbohydrate-containing foods, including cake, cookies, ice cream, potato chips, French fries, white bread, pasta made from refined flour, and the like. But carbohydrates are also contained in many healthful items, including fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, and dairy products -- which is why it's perfectly reasonable to get as much as 60 percent of your calories from carbohydrates even if you choose wisely.

Before you embark on any new weight loss diet, please talk with your physician or a registered dietitian. With epidemic numbers of Americans (both young and old) becoming overweight and obese, it's time we get back to the basics, not head to South Beach, for answers to our health problems.

For more information, contact the CSU Moffat County Cooperative Extension Office, 824-9180.

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