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Negative Effects of Eating Too Many Refined Carbohydrates

author image Aglaee Jacob
Aglaee Jacob is a registered dietitian. She has experience working with people who have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and obesity issues. Jacob obtained a bachelor of science and a master of science, both in nutrition, from Laval University in Quebec City, Canada.
Negative Effects of Eating Too Many Refined Carbohydrates
A white bread ham sandwich. Photo Credit: BWFolsom/iStock/Getty Images

Refined carbohydrates are made from carbohydrates that are extensively processed and transformed. Foods made from white flour and sugar are refined. Unfortunately, many Americans eat refined carbs on a daily basis. Soft drinks, candies, muffins, cakes, desserts and baked goods are not the only foods providing refined carbs. You can also find a lot of refined carbs in breakfast cereals, breads, buns, pizza dough, crackers, white rice, white pasta, pretzels, potato chips and french fries. In addition to not containing any important nutrients, refined carbs could also negatively affect your health and longevity.

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Refined carbs contain a lot of empty and unsatisfying calories. Because these foods do not give your body the nutrients it needs, refined carbs do not promote satiety and actually lead to more carb cravings and overeating. Many people feel that they are addicted to refined carbs and can't stop eating them. One of the main negative effects associated with refined carbs is weight gain. If you eat refined carbs regularly, you are more likely to be overweight or obese, which puts you at risk of developing chronic diseases.

Heart Diseases

Most people believe that only fat can affect their blood cholesterol levels and cardiovascular risk profile, but refined carbs have a big role to play. Eating refined carbs can increase your triglycerides -- a type of fat circulating in your blood -- which increase your risk of stroke and heart attacks. Refined carbs also lower your HDL cholesterol levels, which have the role of protecting your arteries from plaque buildup and atherosclerosis. The large quantities of sugar circulating in your blood after consuming refined carbs can also damage your arteries and make them more prone to becoming clogged.


The high sugar and starch content of refined carbs can rapidly increase your blood sugar levels after a meal. Your pancreas has to work harder when you eat refined carbs to produce enough insulin to try to control your blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels could easily become out of control after eating refined starch. If you don't have diabetes, consuming refined carbs on a regular basis could increase your likelihood of developing it by promoting weight gain and exhausting your pancreas.

Limit Refined Carbohydrates

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends in the 2010 "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" that you limit refined carbs in your diet, especially refined grains and foods containing added sugar. Challenge yourself to eliminate added sugar and all foods containing white flour and sugar from your diet for a month. Although it may be difficult at first, your cravings will slowly decrease. Read food labels and replace refined grains with whole grains whenever possible. To satisfy your sweet tooth, opt for fresh fruits, roasted nuts, plain yogurt or 85 percent dark chocolate.

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