Jessica Dean and Robin Rodriguez

Don’t turn the page in reaction to what we are about to tell you. We love carbs! And soon, you too will learn to embrace the wonderful world of carbohydrates. There we said it, now was that so hard? We know the topic is a bit scary for some to talk about, let alone swallow, but with the millions of Atkins diet followers, someone needed to show some love for carbohydrates.

Since the dawn of fad diets like Atkins and South Beach, many people have been avoiding carbohydrates like the plague. Carbohydrates are nutrients in foods that provide energy in the form of sugar for our bodies.

In foods, they exist in two forms: as simple and complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbs are easily and quickly digested in the body and are identified by their sweet taste. Also known as sugars, simple carbs are also found in many processed foods such as cookies and cakes and anything that has added sugar.

The second group is complex carbohydrates. These carbs are mostly starches and whole grains, they are pleasant to taste, but are not definitely sweet. Foods in this group are typically high in fiber, including the germ and bran of the grain kernel. They take the body longer to digest and help you feel full. They are found in whole grains or whole wheat bread, brown rice and veggies.

So now that we have a handle on what carbs are, let’s talk about why many of you are still frantically running away from the bread aisle at the grocery store. Could it be that you are terrified of putting on a few extra pounds because you ate a carb? You shouldn’t be.

Calories are calories no matter how you choose them. Eating carbs will not make you any fatter than will overindulging in any other particular nutrient. If you eat too much protein, fat or carbs, the body will use what it needs then store the remainder as fat.

Besides the facts that they’re tasty and can be good for you, why should you eat carbs? Well, because you need energy, that’s why. Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel of your body’s muscles and your brain. Without them, your body struggles to produce energy for your cells and you may feel tired or irritable.

Additionally, the fiber in carbohydrate-rich foods helps your body eliminate waste, reducing problems like constipation now and other problems like heart disease down the road.

Any other reasons, you ask? Well, as if making it to all your classes without fainting isn’t reason enough, remember that grain-based foods are good sources of iron, magnesium and folate, which your body needs every day.

So don’t be afraid to have that roll with dinner or perhaps a little rice on the side. Enjoy your meals, carbs and all.

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