Health Experts Agree: This Is The One Type Of Snack You Should Stop Eating (It Causes Inflammation!)

This post has been updated since it was originally published to include more expert insights.

To promote and support a healthy metabolism, it is important to evaluate what you eat in a day and recognize where you can add more nutrients and ultimately, create a balanced diet. With that said, it’s just as important to be mindful of snacks that make you feel lethargic, lack energy or cause inflammation and indigestion.

We checked in with health experts to learn more about one common type of carbohydrate found in many processed junk foods and beverages that’s best to avoid for a healthy metabolism and optimal energy. Read on for tips and suggestions from Ellis Hunnes FundPhD, MPH, RD, registered dietitian and Melissa Morris, ACSM certified exercise physiologist and ISSN certified sports nutritionist.

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Best Worst Carbohydrates: Added Sugars in Processed Foods

The least healthy types of carbohydrates to snack on are the highly processed ones often found in packaged foods like pastries (think Pop-Tarts, energy bars or bakery items), Hunnes explains. The reason these types of carbs aren’t good at any age, let alone over 40, he says, is because they don’t provide nutritional benefits, they often lack vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds. This, he says, is bad for metabolism because it “leads to insulin spikes, increases in IGF-1, a marker of inflammation, and increases the risk of chronic disease and the deposition (fat storage) of calories in the body.”

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Morris agrees, and says he believes that “the worst type of carbohydrate to eat at any age is added sugar,” which is found in sugary drinks, snacks, processed foods and desserts. “Added sugar just adds extra calories without a lot of healthy nutrients,” he says, and points out that too much added sugar in the diet can also increase inflammation in the body; “This affects the immune system and can increase the risk for many chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.”

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Of these types of carbohydrates, Hunnes emphasizes that “it is best to eat the least processed carbohydrates, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits and vegetables, in their natural, unprocessed form.” This, he says, “is harmless to our metabolism and is anti-inflammatory, high in fiber, and helps control weight.”

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Morris agrees, and says that it’s also important to understand the different types of carbohydrates when creating a healthy diet after 40 to reap the most benefits. “There are different types of carbohydrates in the food we eat so we need to understand that concept first,” he said. “There are simple carbohydrates or simple sugars and there are complex carbohydrates,” he continued.

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Some examples of simple carbohydrates that Morris lists are sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), and lactose (milk sugar). Complex carbohydrates are found in foods with starch and fiber, he explains, and fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have complex carbohydrates. “Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest, so they help keep us full longer. They also usually have more vitamins and minerals than foods with simple carbohydrates,” he concluded. The more you know!



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