Carb Conscious

January 6, 2020
| Created by Melanie Taylor, MS, RDN, CD

What’s the deal with CARBS? Are they good? Are they bad?  Are they necessary? Let’s discuss…

The ”good”:

Carbohydrate containing foods include grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, dairy products, and sugars. In the simplest sense carbohydrates provide fuel for the body.  They are the preferred fuel for the brain and for moderate to intense physical exercise. Fiber is a carbohydrate which can reduce blood cholesterol levels, keep the digestive tract healthy, and may help stabilize blood sugar levels.

In addition to the basic functions of carbohydrate, choosing the right sources of carbohydrates provides many health benefits. Think about getting the most nutrient “bang” for your carbohydrate “buck”. Better sources of carbohydrates, like fruits, veggies, and whole grains, are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Less healthy carbohydrate sources like added sugars provide little more than empty calories.

The “sad”:

Over the years, carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap. Trendy diets such as Atkins, South Beach, and Keto advertise easy, rapid weight loss which can be very attractive to someone trying to lose weight. While some people do achieve better initial weight loss on low-carb diets, studies show there are no differences in long term weight loss or maintenance. Low carb diets are quite restrictive and can be hard to maintain long term and tend to decrease enjoyment of food. Which is just sad.

The “ugly”:

On the other hand, the average American consumes 80 pounds of added sugar per year.  So, when we’re talking about carbohydrates, added sugar intake is definitely one most of us could trim down. For example, a 12-ounce Coca Cola contains 39 grams of carbohydrate.  You would need to eat 6 ½ cups of broccoli to eat the same amount of carbohydrates, but you would also get over 15 grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein, loads of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium (just to name a few).  Spend your carbohydrate budget wisely people!

The Bottom Line:

Carbohydrates are a nutritious and necessary fuel for our bodies.  How much and which type of carbohydrate may be a better question than whether or not to have carbohydrates.

Interested in lower carbohydrate products? Harmons Dietitians are here to help! Visit the new Carb Conscious collection on eShop to see some of our favorite recommendations.

Also, for those in the area of our Santa Clara store, we have a Carb Conscious Cooking class coming up at our cooking school.  You can register for it here.

Get in touch with a Harmons Dietitian at