Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet and your body’s primary energy source
The 3 main types of carbohydrates are sugars, starches and fibre.
Sugars: Sweet, short-chain carbohydrates found in food. Examples are glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose etc.
Starches: Long chains of Glucose molecules attached to each other, which gets broken down into glucose post-digestion.
Fibre: It does not provide energy directly, but it does feed the friendly bacteria in the digestive system.
Carbohydrate can be a simple carb or a complex carb based on their chemical makeup. But since most foods have a mixture of both types of carbs it can be tricky to identify what’s healthy and what’s not.
What makes a carb Good or Bad??
To make more sense, instead of saying ‘Simple’ and ‘Complex’ carbohydrates we can say ‘Whole’ and ‘Refined’
Whole carbs are unprocessed and contain the fibre found naturally in the food, while refined carbs have been processed and the natural fibre stripped off. Refined carbs are also lacking in the essential nutrients, so they are empty calories.
Refined carbohydrate consumption is associated with health problems, on the other hand, consumption of high fibre foods is linked to improved metabolic health and lower risk of disease.
How to make the right choice??
As a general rule carbohydrates that are in their natural fibre-rich form are healthy while those that are being stripped of their fibre are not. If its whole single ingredient, natural food then it’s probably a healthy food. With this in mind, we can categorize most carbs as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ But these are just general guidelines.
Examples of ‘good carbs’ are:
- Vegetables – Eat a variety every day
- Whole Grains – Oats, quinoa, brown rice, and barley are just a few
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole fruits
- Beans and legumes
Examples of ‘bad carbs’ are:
- Sugary drinks / carbonated beverages.
- Fruit juices even homemade, unsweetened.
- White bread and other bakery items.
- Pastries, cookies and cakes
- Ice cream
- Candies and chocolates