Carbohydrates are not unhealthy food in their pure form, but nearly all nutritional values are removed from refined carbs, making it an unhealthy choice. Refined carbs include many different foods. "Processed carbohydrates, which many Americans eat today in place of fat, may increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease more than fat does," writes Melinda Wenner Moyer in the May 2010 issue of "Scientific American."
While grains--and foods made from grains--are often perceived as healthy, in fact they are often made from refined carbs, and therefore bad for you. Refined carbs from grains include white flour, white rice and most pastas. Many breads are made from refined grains, including white bread, multigrain bread, and whole wheat bread. The Mayo Clinic says, "Whenever you can, choose whole grains over refined grains." Breads labelled as "whole grain," "sprouted," or "sprouted whole grain" are usually the best choice since they do not contain refined carbs.
Sugar contains refined carbs. Most foods containing white sugar, which include snack foods--even the reduced calorie ones--like cookies, cakes, pies and pastries are very high in refined carbohydrates. Adding white sugar to tea or coffee will automatically increase your refined carb count dramatically. However, not every food that contains sugar is full of refined carbs. For example, many fruits contain sugar, but this is a natural sugar, and much healthier for you than refined sugars.
Brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners are often added to foods or beverages to enhance or create sweetness. These foods are equally as damaging to your refined carb count as is white sugar. Sweeteners may be added to any food or beverage ranging from soft drinks to prepackaged fruits and vegetables. While the food may not have refined carbs in its pure state, it becomes unhealthy once sweeteners are added. Some natural sweeteners do not contain high refined carb counts. These options include Agave, barley malt, brown rice syrup, according to the Organic Authority.