Starchy carbs are actually good for you, says new Harvard study

Exclusion diets that cut out carbs actually do more harm than good

A wide-spread study led by the Harvard School of Public Health states that cutting carbohydrates from your diet can increase the risk of a premature death.

Exclusion diets and weight-loss regimes, which slash all trace of bread, potatoes and pasta, could actually do more harm than good, the 15,400-people experiment found over its 25-year duration.

While eating too many carbs (70 per cent or more) is damaging to health, we need moderate levels of starchy carbs, enough to make up 50 to 55 per cent of our daily intake, balanced by other nutrients. In other words, half of the energy that you get from food should come from carbs.

The researchers estimate that a 50-year-old with a moderate carb intake could expect to live for another 33 years.


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The study, which took into consideration the combined results of previous studies totalling 432,000 people, reports that the highest risk group is one that replaces carbs with meat and cheese, that is protein and fat. The risk is deemed lower for those who eat more plant-based food – lentils, beans, nuts and vegetables.

The study’s co-author Dr Sara Seidelmann says: “Our data suggests that animal-based low-carbohydrate diets might be associated with shorter overall life span and should be discouraged.”