Carbs are an important part of a balanced diet, but you should eat them in moderation.
The simple carbs like sugar can quickly raise your blood glucose levels while the complex carbs in whole grains may be healthier, because they don’t spike blood glucose levels.
Carb-rich foods can have a different effect on your body depending on how they are cooked or processed.
This article was reviewed by Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, CDN, owner of Melissa Rifkin Nutrition LLC.
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With low-carb diets on the rise, carbs often get blamed for weight gain and can be a contributing factor to poor health. The truth is that we need carbs to fuel our bodies.
But not all carbs are created equal and problems come up when we eat too many simple carbs compared to complex carbs. Medical professionals may recommend that those with type 1 or 2 diabetes reduce their simple carb intake.
For most healthy people, however, carbs — both simple and complex — are a vital part of a balanced diet, providing energy and nutrients. Here’s what you need to know about carbs and your health.
Carbs are made up of sugar
Merriam-Webster defines a carbohydrate as “any of various neutral compounds of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen (such as sugars, starches, and celluloses) most of which are formed by green plants and which constitute a major class of animal foods.”
Put more simply, carbohydrates are made up of sugar molecules. But not all of these molecules look the same. They link together in different configurations that form the three main types of carbohydrates:
Sugar, which can be found in fruits, vegetables, table sugar, and dairy products.
Starch, which can be found in vegetables, grains, and beans.
Fiber, which can be found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
As you can see, some foods like vegetables have all three types of carbohydrates whereas dairy only has one — sugar. And what types of carbs are in your food can tell you a lot about how your body will react to them.
When you eat sugar or starch, for example, your digestive system breaks it down into glucose, the blood sugar that normally fuels all of your body’s processes. Fiber, on the other hand, is broken down in the small intestine, mostly unchanged until it meets the large intestine. We need all three types of carbohydrates for a …read more
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