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Healthy Weight Center > Nutrition > Understanding Carbs: 1 | 2

Simple vs. Complex Carbohydrates—Understanding the Difference

Are all carbohydrates bad? Should you join the "no carb" bandwagon and start cutting bread, grains and fruit from your diet? In today's high protein diet craze, new products are bombarding the grocery store shelves daily. How can you distinguish what you should eat from the myriad products now available?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 64% of all Americans are overweight and more than 30% of this group is considered obese. Clearly, exploring the issue of how we should eat seems more important than ever.

According to USDA's food and consumption data, most of the carbohydrates we eat come from grain products, including cereals and pasta, as well as baked products, which contribute both sugar and starch. Far less of the carbohydrates we eat come from fruits and vegetables.

The Changing Breadbasket

The composition of ingredients in processed, carb-based foods has changed over the years. The inflation of portion sizes has accompanied the addition of excess sugar, high fructose corn syrup, flour and other starches to bulk up the product. Americans are subsequently becoming more "super sized." Formerly benign carbs such as tortillas and bagels have quadrupled in size, as have pasta portions in restaurants. We have grown accustomed to an over-full plate, and even at home, we tend to fill it up more than we did twenty years ago.

As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) succinctly says in their newly released report on the status of American obesity—"calories count." Cutting back on portions of all foods, not just the less nutritious carbohydrates would automatically cut the calories.

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 Related Links:

Pasta doesn't have to be a no-no. Find out why it's ok to say yes to pasta.

Find out what the government is doing about carbohydrate standards.

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