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What's a Carb?

Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients, "macros," that we eat in large amounts for energy. Carbohydrates, or carbs, are an often misunderstood macro important to most healthy diets.

Carbohydrates are named by their arrangement of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. The different shapes have different uses in the body. Many know sugar is a carb, but did you know starch and fiber are too?

Video: What are Carbohydrates?

This video shows that a food high in starch or sugar has a high glycemic index, a measure of how quickly a food increases blood sugar. The body uses insulin to absorb sugar into cells. Consistently high blood sugar can cause cell insulin resistance, leading to prediabetes in 1 in 3 US adults, and sometimes diabetes. Eating healthy sources of carbohydrates in a balanced diet can reduce your risk. Take the prediabetes quiz.

3 tips for your carbs:

1) Choose to eat at least half of all grains as whole grains.

2) Eat more fiber (fruits and vegetables)- the National Institutes of Health recommend 21-38 grams/day; the average American eats 16 grams/day [1]

3) Consider choosing water over soda, sports drinks, or juice

For more information, visit Harvard School of Public Health's carbohydrates page. To learn more about your macronutrient and carbohydrate intake, visit the USDA Supertracker, or try a food record app like myfitnesspal.

Workplace Wellness Wednesday is an awareness bulletin to help you make healthy lifestyle choices. It is not a substitute for your healthcare provider.


1. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. Fiber. Accessed April 26, 2017

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