Friday, September 23, 2005

There Are Good 'Good Carbs' & Bad 'Good Carbs'

My friend bestselling low-carb cookbook author Dana Carpender wrote an op-ed piece that appeared in The Birmingham News this week about the subject of eating "good carbs," which is the media's new mantra for people who are livin' la vida low-carb. Be sure you eat those "good carbs" so you're not depriving your body of the things it needs to funcion, they say.

Here's what Dana thinks about that advice:

"I find this mildly irritating, because they often imply that low-carb diets are actually no-carb diets, with no-carbohydrate foods, no matter how good. This is untrue; I know of no doctor nor diet guru who recommends a no-carb diet. All insist that the carbs we do eat be good carbs, though how many grams of those carbs we can tolerate varies from person to person.

You get 'em girl! Dana is EXACTLY right. The media has been somewhat successful at creating this image that people who are livin' la vida low-carb have completely eliminated all carbs from their diet. I have people come up to me all the time asking if I miss eating carbs. I pause for just a moment, smile at them, and state "Yeah, eating ONLY 75-100 carbs in a day is quite miserable" (with my tongue firmly pressed against my cheek!). Most of them just stand there shocked and amazed that I eat ANY carbs at all. The misinformation that floats around out there is why I write here day after day at this blog.

Continuing on in her column to explain what makes a carb food "good," Dana said she looks at the glycemic index/glycemic load, the vitamin content of the food, how much fiber is included in the food, and whether it is processed food.

In fact, she lists the "good carbs" in her column in order from best to worst:

1. Vegetables

Contrary to popular belief, vegetables can and should complement your low-carb lifestyle because they add a lot of value to your diet. Although Dana states "it's hard to think of a really bad vegetable," I would be careful about consuming ones that have too much sugar in them like carrots. Fresh veggies are the best way to go rather than in a can where excess sodium and sugar can creep in an derail your low-carb program.

2. Nuts and seeds

To be honest, before I started livin' la vida low-carb I don't think I ever really purposely ate nuts and seeds. If it was available to me at a party or in my cupboard, then I would probably eat them. But there was never a conscious decision to eat them like I do now. I keep a jar of peanuts, almonds, and, when I can afford them, macadamia nuts on hand for snacking all the time. These are very delicious and filling when you need just a little something to get you through the day. Be sure you drink plenty of water when you are eating nuts and seeds and try to get the unsalted ones. Your body does not need all of the sodium they put in a can of nuts. And, of course, you can get a wide variety of nuts and seeds in the delicious GoLower bars which are coming to the United States by late Fall!

3. Fruits

Here's another category of food that many believe is taboo when you are low-carbin' it. You need to be careful about which fruits you choose because the carb content can be as little as 2g up to 30g+ per serving depending on what you eat. Berries are generally lower in carbs than apples or oranges and certainly much lower than bananas. Just make smart choices when you eat fruit and don't assume it's healthy sugar just because it's in fruit. Sugar is sugar and the less you eat of it the better.

4. Milk

I was a big milk drinker before I started livin' la vida low-carb. I just loved milk. But at 12g carbs per cup, that's just a little too much for my carb-conscious diet. There are some excellent low-carb versions of milk (the Hood brand comes to mind) that give you all the same protein and calcium benefits from regular milk without the added carbs.

5. Legumes

Foods such as beans and peas pack a loaded punch of carbs that you can probably do without or very sparingly. Dana said these are "a relatively new addition to the human diet" and should not necessarily be a part of your low-carb lifestyle.

6. Whole grains

Finally, Dana said the "least desirable of the 'good' carbs" is whole grains because they are LOADED with carbs and lack the nutritional content of other foods on this list. Limit your intake of these foods which can also trigger food allergies in many.

THANK YOU, Dana, for sharing with us your insight about the world of "good carbs" because it helps educate people that being on a low-carb program does not mean removing these important foods from your diet. We are normal people (well, most of us!) who eating a good and healthy amount of carbohydrates each and every day. We couldn't live without them! :-)

Be sure to check out Dana's recipe for "Dulce De Naranja Y" which if my Spanish is correct means "Orange and More Dessert." It's at the end of the article and looks yummy so be sure to check it out!

You can write to Dana Carpender at


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