An unfortunate outcome of the recent popularity of diet books is that people are more confused than ever about the health value of carbohydrates. As you will see in this book, there is a mountain of scientific evidence to show that the healthiest diet you can possibly consume is a high-carbohydrate diet. It has been shown to reverse heart disease, reverse diabetes, prevent a plethora of chronic diseases, and yes, it has been shown many times to cause significant weight loss. But its not quite as simple as that.
At least 99% of the carbohydrates that we consume are derived from fruits, vegetables and grains. When these foods are consumed in the unprocessed, unrefined and natural state, a large proportion of the carbohydrates are in the so-called "complex" form. This means that they are broken down in a controlled, regulated manner during digestion. This category of carbohydrates includes the many forms of dietary fiber, almost all of which remain undigested-but still provide substantial health benefits. In addition, these complex carbohydrates from whole foods are packaged with generous amounts of vitamins, minerals and accessible energy Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are the healthiest foods you can consume, and they are primarily made of carbohydrates.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are highly processed, highly refined carbohydrates that have been stripped of their fiber, vitamins and minerals. Typical simple carbohydrates are found in foods like white bread, processed snack items including crackers and chips made with white flour, sweets including pastries and candy bars and sugar-laden soft drinks. These highly refined carbohydrates originate from grains or sugar plants, like sugar cane or the sugar beet. They are readily broken down during digestion to the simplest form of the carbohydrates, which are absorbed into the body to give blood sugar, or glucose.
In experimental research, the health benefits of a high-carbohydrate diet come from eating the complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Eat an apple, a zucchini or a plate of brown rice topped with beans and other vegetables.
Almost all of us in the United States will die of diseases of affluence. In our China Study, we saw that nutrition has a very strong effect on these diseases. Plant-based foods are linked to lower blood cholesterol; animal-based foods are linked to higher blood cholesterol. Animal-based -foods are linked to higher breast cancer rates; plant-based foods are linked to lower rates. Fiber and antioxidants from plants are linked to a lower risk of cancers of the digestive tract. Plant-based diets and active lifestyles result in a healthy weight, yet permit people to become big and strong. Our study was comprehensive in design and comprehensive in its findings. From the labs of Virginia Tech and Cornell University to the far reaches of China, it seemed that science was painting a clear, consistent picture: we can minimize our risk of contracting deadly diseases just by eating the right food.