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This is a question I get asked often by people who are trying to lose weight or improve their health.

peppers in baskets

Image source: Thinkstock

The answer is NO, carbohydrates are not bad for you.

Your body uses carbohydrates to make glucose which is the fuel that gives you energy and helps keep everything going.

Your body can use glucose immediately or store it in your liver and muscles for when it is needed.  You can find carbohydrates in fruits, vegetables, breads, cereals and other grains, as well as milk and milk products.

Fruits and vegetables are not only great carbohydrate sources, but they are also excellent suppliers of vitamins A and C, antioxidants, flavinoids, fiber, and minerals.

Dairy products are carbohydrates and a great source of calcium and protein.

Whole grain breads and cereals are a good source of B vitamins and fiber.

Carbohydrate-rich foods help with permanent weight control because they contain less than half the calories of fat, which means that replacing fatty foods with complex carbohydrates automatically cuts calories.

It’s important to remember to eat healthful carbohydrates, such as whole grains, pasta, brown rice, and sweet potatoes. Healthier foods higher in carbohydrates include ones that provide dietary fiber without added sugars.

Processed carbohydrates, such as white bread and white rice, are not as healthful because they have lost much of their fiber and other nutrients.

The risk of many cancers can likely be decreased when fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans are eliminated added to the diet. The National Cancer Institute currently recommends, based on the bulk of scientific research, that you eat a plant-based diet that is high-fiber and low-fat.

Eating high-carbohydrate, high-fiber plant foods help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health.

Mary Ellen Autry recently appeared on KVUE’s FYI Austin to answer questions about carbohydrates. View her interview below: