LIFESTYLE

Carbohydrates Are The Reason Humans Are So Intelligent, Researchers Suggest

10/08/2015 11:38 BST | Updated 10/08/2015 11:59 BST

Love carbs? Well now you've got a new and totally brilliant excuse to eat more of them. (Well, the wholegrain stuff, that is.)

Scientists have discovered that carbohydrates could be the reason why, over time, the human brain has become so large and intelligent.

In a new study published in The Quarterly Review of Biology, scientists argue that carbohydrate consumption - particularly starch - has been instrumental in the evolution and expansion of the human brain over the past million years.

carbohydrates

According to Harvard's School Of Public Health, the healthiest sources of carbohydrates are unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans.

Other (not-so-healthy) carbohydrates include bread, milk, popcorn, potatoes, cookies and spaghetti.

When carbs are consumed, the digestive system changes them into glucose. This sugar is then made into energy.

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Back in the day, prior to humans being able to cook their food, carbohydrates were available in the form of seeds, fruit and nuts.

Scientists discovered that the invention of cooking allowed humans to digest starches, which would've been very difficult to digest raw.

In addition to this, they found that the salivary amylase gene, which allows us to produce saliva aiding the digestion of starches, developed during the same time time that human brains grew.

Dr Karen Hardy, who led the team of researchers, believes that the co-evolution of cooking, as well as the increase in salivary amylase genes, resulted in the acceleration of our brains' growth.

Hooray for big brains. And hooray for carbs.

Good Carbs