Good and bad carbohydrates
Proper nutrition is one of the most effective methods of maintaining good health and well-being. One of its most important aspects is carbohydrates, because your well-being can be good or bad depending on the carbohydrates you consume. In this article, you will learn what the “good” and “bad” carbohydrates are, as well as their sources, and you can adjust your diet for the better.
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are the main group of nutrients along with proteins and fats. The main function of these substances in the human body is to generate energy. Carbohydrates are divided into simple and complex, and include many varieties of saccharides, starches and fiber.
About varieties of carbohydrates
In nature, sugar is found in animal milk and fruit and is divided into monosaccharides and disaccharides. Monosaccharides are, in fact, just separate sugar molecules. Three types of monosaccharides are usually included in a person’s daily diet – glucose, fructose and galactose, which, in turn, are combined into two-molecule compounds called disaccharides: maltose (glucose + glucose = malt sugar), sucrose (glucose + fructose = table sugar), and lactose (glucose + galactose = milk sugar).
Starches, also called polysaccharides or complex carbohydrates, are more intricate chains of sugar molecules.
Fiber, which is not digestible and is non-starch-containing polysaccharides, maintains the regularity of bowel movements and significantly reduces the risk of many diseases of civilization (e.g. obesity, etc.) Dietary fiber is also a provider of bacteria that are beneficial for the intestines, thereby increasing immunity, maintaining a healthy weight, metabolism and even mental health.
What are complex carbohydrates?
In short, complex carbohydrates are good carbohydrates on which to base your diet. From a chemistry point of view, these are sugar molecules combined into long, complex chains. This structure forces the body to digest these carbohydrates longer, so that their use does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Oatmeal, brown rice, legumes, green vegetables and other cereals contain a large amount of complex carbohydrates.
And as you probably already guessed, one of the advantages of complex carbohydrates is that they usually have a lot of vitamins, minerals and other important nutritional components.
What are simple carbohydrates?
Simple carbohydrates or, as they are also called, simple saccharides – it’s simple. They consist of one or two sugar molecules combined together. The body easily and quickly digests such carbohydrates, which makes them a “quick-acting” energy source. If you, for example, are a professional athlete who is in the midst of competition, then such an “energy injection” can play to your advantage. However, if you prefer a sedentary lifestyle, simple carbohydrates will lead to a serious increase in blood sugar and weight gain.
However, not all simple carbohydrates should be wary. For example, fresh fruits contain such carbohydrates, but they also have fiber. In combination with fiber, the body digests and absorbs simple carbohydrates somewhat more slowly.
Refined carbohydrates: too easy.
But the opposite is also true: if you remove fiber from complex carbohydrates, your body will react to them as simple ones. Such carbohydrates, often called refined, come from high-grade, natural products that have undergone some processing and have slightly altered chemical composition; for example, fructose corn syrup, which is a chemical sweetener rather than a natural corn-based product, and bleached flour. Refined carbohydrates are also found in pasta, white bread, and even fruit juice.
By the way, the value of fruit juice for the human diet has always been a subject of controversy, the result of which may surprise many. The benefits of consuming a large amount of fruit juice at first glance seem quite logical, but do not forget that it lacks fiber and contains only simple saccharides (carbohydrates), sometimes in a very tangible volume. It would be preferable to limit the intake of simple carbohydrates, especially if they are refined. If you decide to “clean” your diet, removing simple carbohydrates from there is a better start.
Choosing the Right Carbohydrates
Choosing the right carbohydrates becomes an easy task if you adhere to the following rules.
Eat enough vegetables
First of all, make whole, natural vegetables and fruits the basis of your diet. Plant-based nutrients slow down the aging process, promote healthy cell division, and reduce the risk of diseases associated with a particular lifestyle. Try to choose vegetables and fruits that have bright, saturated colors, as This is an indicator of their quality and content.