When it comes to the obesity epidemic in America, the blame seems to shift from one food group to the next. But according to Roxanne B. Sukol, a preventive medicine specialist and the medical director of the Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Enterprise, the true enemy is refined carbs, or what she calls "stripped carbs."
Simply put, our bodies digest these processed carbohydrates, including white bread, white flour, and white rice, more quickly than their whole-grain counterparts, meaning they're rapidly turned into sugar. Since they're essentially "stripped of all their nutrition," Sukol regards refined carbs as her "chief nutritional concern," reports Business Insider.
This is partly because they're so difficult to spot; many lurk in seemingly innocuous foods like white rice sushi, granola bars, pastas, frozen pizzas, cereals, many baked goods, and more. And due to the ubiquity of these processed foods on our supermarket shelves, refined carbs are basically everywhere (and, unsurprisingly, play a strong role in weight gain).
But as nutritionist and dietitian Cara Anselmo points out, cutting out carbs altogether isn't the answer. While she does admit that these refined ingredients are easy to overeat due to their palatable flavor, she advises her clients to simply swap refined carbs for their whole-grain alternatives, like brown rice, whole-grain bread, and whole-grain pasta. "These carbs are rich in nutrients like fiber, which keeps us full and helps regulate digestion, and protein, which helps sustain and build muscle," she adds. "Their refined counterparts typically have very little of either ingredient."
Next up: This is what happens to your body when you actually eat enough vegetables.