Simple vs. Complex Carbohydrates

Simple vs. Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a major nutrient and one of the body’s primary sources of energy. Some fad diets discourage eating carbohydrates, but the key is finding the right carbs – not avoiding them all together. You may know that eating complex carbs is better than simple carbs, however knowing the difference is sometimes confusing. Understanding which foods are carbohydrates and how they work in the body can help you choose the right ones.

When we think of carbs, most of us think of bread and pasta, but they can also be found in milk products, fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, sugary foods and sweet drinks. Carbohydrates are made up of three components: fiber, starch, and sugar. Fiber and starch are complex carbs and sugar is a simple carb (no surprise there).

Simple carbs are sugars. Some occur naturally in foods, like milk, but most of the simple carbs in the American diet are added to foods. Some of the most common refined sources of simple carbs are: sodas, sweet tea, baked treats, packaged cookies, fruit juice, breakfast cereal and pastries. It is
beneficial to your long term health to reduce simple carbs.

The more complex a carbohydrate the better! Complex carbs are higher in fiber and digest more slowly than simple carbs. This makes you feel fuller longer, which can help with weight control. Complex carbs can also help manage blood sugar spikes after meals. Complex carbs you should eat more of are: whole  grains, fiber-rich fruits (apples, blueberries, raspberries, oranges, etc), fiber-rich vegetables (corn, acorn squash, peas, etc), and beans.

Choosing the right carbs can help energize your body and protect your body from long term complications.

So…BE COMPLEX when choosing your carbs!

Holly White, RDN, LDN, CDE