There are 2 types of carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are considered simple or complex based on their chemical structure. So what are complex carbohydrates, or some call them starch?
They are simply sugars linked together to form a chain. Due to its complex chain shape, your digestive enzymes have to work much harder to access the bonds to break the chain into individual sugars for absorption through the intestines.
Therefore, the digestion of complex carbohydrates takes longer. The slow absorption of sugars gives you a steady supply of energy and limits the amount of sugar that is converted to fat and stored!
People generally consider complex carbohydrates to be good carbohydrates.
Here is a list of foods with complex carbohydrates.
- whole barley
- Pink grapefruit
- turnip greens
- buckwheat bread
- oat bran bread
- dried apricots
- oat bran cereal
- wild rice
- Integral rice
- multigrain bread
- Pinto beans
- low fat yogurt
- skimmed milk
- White beans
- Garbanzo beans
- soy milk
- Wholemeal bread
- split peas
Simple carbohydrates are quickly digested. Many simple carbohydrates contain refined sugars and few essential vitamins and minerals. People often think of them as bad carbohydrates.
These simple carbohydrates are actually smaller sugar molecules as opposed to the long chains of complex carbohydrates.
They are quickly digested because the individual sugars are ready to be absorbed immediately, plus digestive enzymes have easy access to the bonds in the paired molecules.
You could say that most of the work has been done for the digestive system! Foods like cakes, pastries, cookies, chocolate, etc. (you get the picture) they contain a lot of “empty” calories.
Because our cells generally don’t require that much energy at the time we eat, the sugar must either be converted to glycogen (sugar storage within cells) or converted to fat.
Your body’s cells can only store a limited amount of glycogen, so in many common cases, eating too many foods that contain simple carbohydrates can contribute to body fat stores.
Here is a list of simple carbohydrate foods.
- table sugar
- corn syrup
- fruit juice
- Bread made with white flour
- Pasta made with white flour
- All baked goods made with white flour.
- Most packaged cereals
There are many more foods that contain simple and complex carbohydrates. You can use the list above as a starting point for a healthier diet right away.