What The Heck Are Green Carbs?

And why should we eat them, quite frankly?

Carbohydrates -- we can't help but love 'em. But over the years they've developed a bit of a reputation as being bad for our health. First we were told to cut them out. Then we found out we could eat them in moderation.

Well, just when you thought you'd finally grasped the good versus bad carbs debate, hold on to you hats, because here's another little tidbit to learn: Carbs can be classified by colour. Yep, that's right. Three to be precise.

In the BBC documentary, The Truth About Carbs, Dr Xande van Tulleken explained how despite the misconception that all carbs are bad, it's the colour of carbs that really matters when choosing the healthiest ones to eat.

It's the colour of carbs that really matters not the calories. Image: Getty.

So what are carbs? Well, according to Dr Tulleken, carbohydrates are foods that get converted into glucose -- or sugar -- after we eat them. This serves as a main source of fuel for our bodies.

"Along with protein and fat, [carbs] are one of the most important nutrients for our bodies," he said. The problem: if we eat too many carbs then that energy gets stored as fat -- and that's what's given carbs a bad name.

To help you understand what you can and can't eat, Dr Tulleken said the majority of carbs can be put into three categories -- and each one is represented by a colour: beige, white and green.

The first type are starches. These are what the majority of people understand carbs to mean, such as things like bread, pasta, potatoes and rice. These aren't good for you in large quantities.

The second type -- also known as "white" carbs --- are commonly found in sugary treats such as soft drinks, sweets, and highly-processed and refined foods, such as cakes and biscuits. These lack nutrients and are high in calories.

But it's not all bad news. The third type of carbs -- also referred to as "green" carbs -- are dietary fibre. These nutritious carbs, found in fruit and vegetables, help to keep you feeling sated, and usually come from the part of the plant that's jam-packed with nutrients. 

And then there are resistant starches -- these kinda fall into the green carb basket. These high-fibre foods, such as lentils, beans and unprocessed whole grains, are typically difficult to digest -- but in a good way. Their main job is to help feed your gut bacteria  -- aka your microbiome.

White carbs lack nutrients and are high in calories. Image: Getty.

So what does this new information tell us? Well, according to Dr Tulleken, if nothing else, it shows that beige carbs are the ones you really have to watch for. Or at least have fewer of.

"On average we eat seven tonnes of white and beige carbs over our lifetime, and because these "starchy" carbs are everywhere they can be very difficult to avoid," he said.

"It's about making carbs work for you," he said.

Feature image: Getty.