Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Swapping 'Bad Fats' for 'Bad Carbs' Won't Help Your Health

Source: Reuters Health (Summary by NIM)

Saturated and trans fats are marketed almost as a death sentence these days. These fats, which are solid at room temperature, add rigidity, not fluidity to our cell membranes, and tend to cause the buildup of plaques in our blood vessels, leading to heart disease or worse. Limiting our exposure to these fats is best, however we must be careful what we substitute them with. If we cut our 'bad fat' intake but take in more refined and processed carbohydrates as a result, we're not doing ourselves any favours, researchers have found.

According to Danish researchers, higher intakes of refined and processed carbohydrates such as white bread and white pasta cause spikes in our blood sugar. Carbohydrates that are quickly converted to glucose in our blood, resulting in blood sugar spikes, have been found to increase blood lipid levels, but decrease good cholesterol, overall increasing the risk of heart disease. This effect is more predominant in women.

Subbing saturated and trans fats for healthy, unsaturated fats, or even unrefined carbs such as whole grains, vegetables and low-glycemic index carbs was shown to improve heart health. Low-GI foods tend to be higher in fibre and are more slowly digested, preventing that 'spike' in blood sugar levels.

According to
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, a good way to know if something is high in simple sugars or High-GI is to look at the nutrition label under carbohydrates. Underneath carbohydrates it says 'sugars' - if the number is high per serving size, you should probably skip adding it into your shopping cart!

Check out the whole article called "
Subbing 'bad' carbs for 'bad' fats ups heart risk" from Reuters Health (Apr. 13, 2010).