If the past year has taught me anything it’s that 

  1. Eyebrows need to be filled in with an actual eyebrow pencil, eyeliner doesn’t cut it, and 
  2. It is extremely difficult to convince a person they need carbohydrates

Since it took me this long to tackle A (it’s pitiful, I know, the woman at Sephora got very sad when I told her my eyeliner doubling as eyebrow pencil “trick” and promptly sold me a real eyebrow pencil), let’s focus on B. 

When I was working at a hospital in San Diego, I covered the cardiology floor a lot. One of my patients had a heart attack at a startling young age and the cardiologist attributed it to this person following a strict ketogenic diet for the past couple years. This attribution surprised me because this doctor really liked the keto diet and would recommend it to his patients, so seeing him write that this high-fat, low-fiber diet CAUSED a person’s heart attack was pretty telling. Despite having the cardiologist back me up, this person would only agree to re-introducing carbs for a couple months before eliminating them again. *Sigh* I realize my ability to create change is limited by a person’s ability to accept guidance, BUT I’M NOT GIVING UP!!! Please allow me to redirect my passion for carbs from this really unfortunate patient onto you, my very kind and patient blog reader. 

Jen Lyman cuts a watermelon into pieces

Talk science with me for a minute. 

Our livers make cholesterol because cholesterol gives cells structure, which allows them to function properly. Cholesterol is useful! But some people’s livers make more cholesterol than is necessary. And in the context of a diet high in saturated fat (that’s the fat that holds its shape at room temperature), this leads to even more cholesterol production. This cholesterol goes from your liver into your small intestine and is then absorbed into your blood stream from there. Because the cholesterol goes into your small intestine before it’s absorbed into the blood, we have an opportunity to prevent it from being absorbed by eating soluble fiber! I know, you’re stoked. 

Soluble fiber is the gooey, sticky fiber that dissolves in water. Picture oatmeal for example. If I don’t wash my oatmeal bowl right away, I’m going to have to really work to get it clean because it’s so sticky. That sticky fiber binds to the cholesterol in a person’s small intestine and prevents it from being absorbed. This kind of fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. All of which contain carbohydrates and have to be eliminated or only eaten in extremely small amounts if someone is to get into ketosis, which is one of my biggest beefs with the keto diet. 

Bottom line: Fiberous carbohydrates are so good for you. Eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes to optimize heart health. If you’re not sure how many carbohydrates to eat in a day or are terrified that they’ll make you gain weight, let’s talk. I know our American culture has trained us to be afraid of carbs, but they’re a macronutrient for a reason—our bodies work best when we eat a substantial amount of carbs every day! It’s hard and scary to know what to eat, but we’re here to help. 

-Jen Lyman, RDN, LD, CLT

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