Did you know there are three (3) main types of carbs in food? They are simple carbs (sugar), complex carbs (starch), & fibrous (fiber) carbs.
1. Simple Carbs (Sugar): Simple carbohydrates are digested quickly. They have a ‘simple’ molecular structure and are made up of 1-2 sugar molecules. The simplest form of carbohydrate is glucose. There are two main types of sugar:
- Naturally occurring sugars found in milk (lactose) or fruit (fructose).
- Added sugars such as those added during the processing of cakes, cookies, heavy syrup, etc.
Common names of sugar include table sugar (sucrose), brown sugar, molasses, honey, beet sugar, cane sugar, confectioner’s sugar, powdered sugar, raw sugar, maple syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, and sugar can syrup.
Although fruits are healthy and packed with minerals and vitamins, it is best to eat it them in moderation, as complex carbs such as vegetables are a superior food source.
Here’s a list of simple carbohydrates foods:
Table sugar, corn syrup, fruit juice, candy, cake, breads & pastas made with white flour, sodas/sugary beverages, baked goods made with white flour, most packaged cereals, honey, milk, yogurt, jam/jelly, & chocolate.
2. Complex Carbs (Starch): Complex carbohydrates are also made up of sugars, but the sugar molecules are strung together to form longer, more complex chains. Complex starchy carbohydrates include whole grains, peas and beans, which are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. The problem with complex starch carbs is that often they are refined.
Refined carbohydrates are foods where machinery has been used to remove the high fiber parts (the bran and the germ) from the grain. When a complex carb is refined, it loses it complex structure and thus all the properties that made it a healthy choice.
Here’s a list of complex carbohydrates foods:
Starchy Vegetables/Grains: beans, beet, black eyed peas, carrots, cauliflower, corn, green peas, garbanzo beans, lima beans, lentils, legumes, navy beans, peas, potatoes, parsnips, pumpkin, red beans, squash, sweet potatoes, soy beans, turnip, winter butternut, yams, barley, cracked wheat, millet, oats, popcorn, rice, shredded wheat, whole wheat.
3. Fibrous Carbs (Fiber): Fibrous carbs are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other nutrients and tend to be green vegetables. These are full of fiber, which is the indigestible portion of plant material (i.e. vegetables). This means that much of the food passes straight through the gut and is not absorbed, thus they are great colon cleansers and are essential for keeping the digestive process running clean and healthy.
Here’s a list of fibrous carbohydrates foods:
Asparagus, artichoke, eggplant, bamboo shoots, green beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, red/green peppers, spinach, zucchini. Fibrous carbs also includes beans, legumes, fruits/veggies with edible skin (corn, apples, beans, etc) or seeds (berries), whole grains/pastas, cereals, breads, nuts.
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-Eric & Maleka Beal
Eric and Maleka Beal are health coaches and co-founders of BetterChoices, a health & wellness company and social community focused on educating, advocating, and promoting better health and wellness through lifestyle, nutrition, and fitness education.