You've seen the headlines circulating the past few days: "It's carbs, not fats that are bad for you." However, the truth is a bit less black and white than that. The research in question followed more than 135,000 adults from 5 continents (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology—PURE) and shows diets that include moderate amounts of carbohydrates (55 percent total intake, including fruits and veggies) and fats (35 percent total intake, unsaturated and saturated) are associated with lower risk of death. The study results seem particularly relevant in poorer countries (and poorer sections of richer countries) where oftentimes lower-quality/highly processed carbohydrate intake accounts for up to 75 percent of daily calories.
Fruit, veggie, and legume consumption was shown to reach maximum health benefits around 3-4 servings per day which is slightly below current U.S. Dietary recommendations of 5-9 (1/2 c. servings) per day. However, the average Utahan only consumes 2 servings of produce per day, making these findings still something to strive towards locally.
Tips to Help You Choose Healthier Carbs On a Regular Basis
Fill the Majority of Your Shopping Cart With Whole Foods
Veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grain products, and items with short ingredient-lists are all good choices.
Enjoy Favorite Treats Regularly—Just Consider the Portion
Eating food we enjoy is important for our emotional and social well-being! Food is one of life's greatest pleasures and special foods, sweets, and treats can fit into most people's healthful diet.
Choose Fiber-Rich, Protein-Rich Foods to Fill You Up
Fiber, protein, and fat components in foods help with satiation, and keep us feeling fuller for longer periods of time. Eat a mix of these nutrients with each meal or snack to feel mentally and physically satisfied.
Frontload Calories to Naturally Reduce Late-Night Cravings
Some studies show that eating mixed meals and snacks throughout the day (instead of skimping) reduces emotional eating and cravings later in the evening.
Take the time to prep meals and snacks ahead of time so that on busy work/school-days you have a variety of quick and healthful mixed foods available.
Practice Mindful Eating Habits
In our busy society we often eat mindlessly, not paying attention to what, where, or how-much we are eating on a regular basis. Instead of focusing on calorie-counts or percentages of macro-nutrients, try tuning in to your hunger and satiety cues. Practicing mindful eating can help reduce emotional or stress-eating, which is typically linked to higher-fat, highly-processed carbohydrates (think packaged cookies, muffins, donuts, or salty chips, crackers, etc.).