No carbohydrates in the evening, no pizza for dinner ... these are just some of the recommendations that can sometimes be read in some newspapers. In fact, carbohydrates have often been demonized as the main cause of weight gain, hyperglycemia, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular problems. But is it really so? Not exactly. In fact, a lot depends on the type of carbohydrates you eat, as emerged from a research published in the British Journal of Nutrition last year but recently elected the research of the year by the same scientific journal (Nagata et al, British Journal of Nutrition, 2019).
Scientists started from the observation that studies on the effects of carbohydrates on health were not in agreement. Indeed, a 2017 research concluded that a high carbohydrate intake could cause an increased risk of mortality. At the same time, however, some works had observed the protective effect of rice on health. So, the researchers thought that the effect on health may depend on the type of carbohydrates ingested. In fact, there are different types of carbohydrates. There are rice, pasta and cereals but also the sugars contained in fruits and vegetables, in milk, syrups or sweeteners. The researchers recruited more than 34,000 people over the age of 35 and asked them to fill out a questionnaire about their eating habits over the past year. For 16 years, the volunteers were followed up with follow-up visits to check their state of health. At the end of the experiment, what emerged was that those who had consumed more carbohydrates from rice, pasta and cereals also had a lower risk of mortality than those who had consumed more carbohydrates from sugary juices, sugary drinks, jams and ice cream. In particular, the likelihood of having cardiovascular disease but also cancer had dropped. As far as tumors are concerned, the reduction of a particular sugar, maltose, which is often added as a sweetener in foods, has proved crucial. It is also important to note that, for the purposes of the study, the sugars naturally present in fruit and vegetables were not considered. In fact, in this case, it must be taken into account that the fruit and vegetables contain a great variety of substances that act in synergy with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.