Carbohydrates are a major macronutrient and one of your body’s primary sources of energy. Still, there is a constant weight loss buzz that discourages eating them. The key is finding the right carbs — not avoiding them altogether.
You may have heard that eating complex carbs is better than simple carbs. The problem is that nutrition labels don’t tell you if the carbohydrate content is simple or complex. Either way, understanding how these foods are classified and how they work in your body can help ensure you choose the right carbs.
Carbohydrates are an important nutrient found in numerous types of foods. Most of us equate carbs with bread and pasta, but you can also find them in:
- dairy products
- sugary foods and sweets
Carbohydrates ( Carbs for short ) are made up of three components: fiber, starch, and sugar. Fiber and starch are complex carbs, while sugar is a simple carb. Depending on how much of each of these is found in a food determines its nutrient quality.
Simple carbs equals Simple nutrition
Simple carbs are sugars. While some of these occur naturally in milk, most of the simple carbs in the American diet are added to foods. Common simple carbs added to foods include:
- raw sugar
- brown sugar
- corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup
- glucose, fructose, and sucrose
- fruit juice concentrate
So this are the type of sugar you should avoid at all cost.
Complexity is good
While humans usualy want simpler things in life, this is the one time where complex things are better for you.
Complex carbs pack in more nutrients than simple carbs, because they are higher in fiber and digest more slowly. This also makes them more filling, which means they’re a good option for weight control. They are also ideal for people with type 2 diabetes because they help manage post-meal blood sugar spikes.
Fiber and starch are the two types of complex carbohydrates. Fiber is especially important because it promotes bowel regularity and helps to control cholesterol. The main sources of dietary fiber include:
- whole grains
Starch is also found in some of the same foods as fiber. The difference is certain foods are considered more starchy than fibrous, such as potatoes. Other high-starch foods are:
- whole wheat bread
Complex carbohydrates are key to long-term health. They make it easier to maintain your weight, and can even help guard against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems in the future.