Carbs have long been vilified in the world of dieting and health. However, recent research suggests that not all carbs are created equal when it comes to their impact on inflammation and overall health. In fact, certain carbohydrate-rich foods can actually help lower inflammation and prevent diseases like heart disease and cancer. Here are five “bad carbs” that you should consider adding to your diet to lower inflammation:
1. Pasta: Traditional pasta made from refined grains can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, leading to inflammation. However, whole grain pasta is a different story. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that high whole grain intake, like that found in whole wheat pasta, was linked to lower levels of inflammation. Whole grain pasta is rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, making it a healthier option.
2. Potatoes: Potatoes are often seen as a high-calorie and high-carb food. However, they are also packed with nutrients like fiber, vitamins C, B3, and B6, and potassium. Purple potatoes and sweet potatoes, in particular, are rich in inflammation-fighting antioxidants called carotenoids and anthocyanins. These antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress and lower inflammation levels.
3. Tortillas: Maintaining a healthy gut is crucial for reducing inflammation. Corn tortillas, compared to refined flour tortillas, contain resistant starch, a dietary fiber that resists digestion and promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. This fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, which lower inflammation and enhance gut function.
4. Rice: While rice contains minimal amounts of resistant starch, it can still benefit health and fight inflammation, especially if you opt for colorful varieties like purple and red rice. These varieties are rich in anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Swapping plain white rice for colorful options can provide additional health benefits.
5. Bread: Whole grain bread is often considered a healthier choice compared to refined bread. Whole grain bread contains fiber, amino acids, phytochemicals, and B vitamins, thanks to all three parts of the wheat grain. Studies have shown that whole grains have a positive impact on reducing the risk of certain diseases, including inflammation-related conditions like cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
It’s important to note that portion control and overall dietary balance are key when incorporating these carbs into your diet. Consult with a medical provider or registered dietitian if you have any underlying health conditions that may limit your carbohydrate intake. By choosing the right carbs and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can enjoy these foods while also supporting your overall health and reducing inflammation.