The quest of simple vs complex carbs holds important differences in terms of their chemical structure, digestion, absorption, and impact on health. Carbohydrates (also known as carbs) are macronutrients that can be classified as sugar, starch, and fiber. Sugar and starch yield glucose, which is a type of energy molecule. Glucose is required by the body to generate ATP (the energy currency of the body).
One gram of carbohydrates contains four calories of energy. Refined and processed carbs are known to be harmful to health for various reasons. These carbohydrates can trigger a spike in blood glucose and insulin levels.
Several lifestyle disorders, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), are related to the consumption of high amounts of carbohydrates. Learning the difference between simple vs complex carbs helps in great lengths to address proper diet and work towards building a healthier lifestyle.
Low-carb diets like the keto diet, paleo diet, and carnivore diet restrict carb intake and claim various health benefits. In this article, we will discuss the difference between simple vs complex carbs and list out the foods to avoid and include.
Simple vs Complex Carbs
Simple vs complex carbs help us understand the importance of quality carbohydrates in our diet, and how they can provide a range of health benefits. Sugars are known to be simple carbohydrates and yield glucose when consumed. Examples of simple carbohydrates include:
- raw and refined sugar
- brown sugar
- corn syrup
- glucose, fructose, and sucrose
- fruit juice concentrate
Carbohydrates that do not yield glucose instantly are known as complex carbohydrates. Fiber and starches are the two main complex carbohydrates found in the diet. Sources of these carbohydrate types can be found in:
- nuts and seeds
- beans and lentils
- whole grains
- whole wheat bread
- rice (brown and white)
According to experts like Dr. James, not all carbs need to be vilified. It's important to identify and choose the right carbs. He recommends leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and berries as carb sources.
Simple Carbs To Avoid
Most foods containing simple sugars can be addictive. They're also associated with several disorders, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. The foods to avoid are:
1) Sweetened soda
Soda with added sugars is extremely harmful to health. It can cause obesity and aggravate the symptoms of type 2 diabetes mellitus. It's best to opt for fresh fruit juices.
2) Baked snacks
Baked snacks often contain sugar. That's bad for health and must be avoided at any cost. These foods often cause excess cravings. They can be substituted with other food items such as fruits.
Readymade cookies in the market contain high amounts of sugar. These foods are not safe for diabetic people. It's best to bake your own cookies at home without sugar.
4) Packaged fruit juices
Fruit juices available in the market often contain added sugar. It's advisable to check the nutritional label carefully for simple carbs.
5) Instant cereals
Packaged breakfast cereals are highly processed foods made using refined carbs. They contain a lot of sugar and preservatives. Some of the most common products often contain artificial colors and flavoring agents. It's advisable to choose cereals made from whole grains.
Healthy Complex Carbs
Complex carbohydrates can be found in whole and natural foods. Examples of complex carbohydrates include:
1) Whole grains
Whole grains are rich sources of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, and selenium. They're also among the best dietary fiber foods to add to your diet.
2) Fibrous fruits
Examples of fiber-rich foods include guava, berries, and avacado. They're also among the fruits that are good for diabetics.
3) Fibrous vegetables
Examples of fiber-rich vegetables include broccoli, leafy greens, and carrots. They're also among the best foods to help with constipation.
Beans are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including the benefits of potassium, folate, and iron. Beans are among the best foods vegetarians should add for a complete protein.
Research published in the journal Missouri Medicine strongly associates the occurrence of heart disease and diabetes with simple carbohydrates.
Choosing the right foods and knowing the difference between simple vs complex carbs is key to maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, as well as managing conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
The sugars present in such foods are very harmful. While buying food, one must carefully go through the nutritional label and look for added sugars and check for simple and complex carbs content. Avoiding foods with added sugars and simple carbohydrates and consuming more foods that are whole and natural can be beneficial to health. A balanced diet is crucial to getting a fit and healthy body.