Which Carbohydrates Are Better For You

First Posted November. 11, 2017 - Updated April. 22, 2018

Carbohydrates are the main staples of many individual's diet. These include pasta, rice, crackers, cereal, bread and bread products, like cakes, donuts, and bagels among others. Also included, are milk, yogurt, and ice cream.

Carbohydrates have been receiving a bad reputation in the past few years. Unfortunately, lumping all carbs into the ‘bad’ basket has caused much confusion and disinformation for those concerned about their health and nutrition.

There are carbohydrates which, when not consumed in excess, are good for us. There are others that should be consumed daily, and others that are carbs not good for your health.

Some carb sources have been highly regarded as being very helpful for the prevention of some chronic diseases.

This brings us to a commonly asked question, ‘which carbs are good and which carbs are bad?’

Complex (Good) Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are considered good for your health because they provide the body with a usable source of energy as well as fiber and other dietary nutrients.

Complex carbs are slowly broken down by the body into glucose. And by doing so, it keeps your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day, therefore not experiencing hunger pangs that only lead to over eating.

Though all types of carbohydrates eventually break down into blood glucose, complex carbohydrates take longer to complete this process and offer vital nutrients the body needs along the way.

They also offer indigestible fibers that aren’t broken down and instead aid in gut health and elimination of stool.

These type of carbohydrates also reduce the prevalence of mood swings and reduce the feelings of irritability.

Complex Carbohydrates are mainly found in whole plant foods and are high in minerals and vitamins.

Examples of good carb foods include: fruits and vegetables, legumes (beans), whole grains, seeds and nuts.

Simple (Bad) Carbohydrates

As your body digests a simple carbohydrate (carb) food your blood sugar levels spike and then drop off very quickly, mimicking the effect of having skipped a meal. Having this feeling causes you to in most cases, grab another simple carb food to reduce the hunger pangs.

Simple carb foods include among others:

  • Soda
  • Candy
  • Artificial syrups
  • Sugar

  • White rice, white bread, and white pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Pastries and desserts

When simple carbohydrates are consumed, they offer little nutrition and are broken down rapidly causing a sharp spike in blood sugar and the hormones needed to complete carbohydrate digestion.

good and bad carbohydrates

Fiber and Carbohydrates

Fiber is a non-digestible complex carbohydrate. Our digestive system does not contain the enzymes needed to break apart the links between sugar units.

Fiber encourages the growth of good bacteria in the lower gut. Benefits come from two different types of plant fibers that are important for good health. And these include, soluble and insoluble fiber.

 fiber foods Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion. This slows digestion. Sources include among others, oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables.

Insoluble fiber is beneficial for bowel regularity and creating bulky stools that are easy to pass. This type of fiber is the protective coating around plant cells. Because it’s rough and rigid, it keeps its form and sweeps out your intestines as it passes through them.

Sources of insoluble fiber include among others, whole grains, wheat bran, cabbage, lettuce, onions, bell peppers, corn kernels, and the skins of apples, cucumbers, grapes and peas.

It is important to consume both types of fiber for maximum health benefits. But what about insoluble fiber found in whole grains? Is this type of carbohydrate really god for our health. Should we be consuming it, or should we avoid eating it?

Non-digestible Carbohydrates and Mineral Bio-availability

The addition of cereal fiber to the human diet has been found consistently to depress absorption and retention of calcium, magnesium and zinc, and usually to depress absorption of iron (Brune et al. 1992Ink 1988van der Aar et al. 1983).

This depression of mineral absorption by cereal products (from grains) is related more to the phytate than to the fiber content of the products (Brune et al. 1992).

The size of the fiber particles (van der Aar et al. 1983) and the amount of calcium in the diet (Greger 1987) also modified the effect of cereal fiber on mineral absorption. The effect on mineral absorption of various soluble carbohydrates that are poorly digested in the small intestines of mammals was less consistent. These compounds include pectin, various gums, “resistant” starches and certain oligosaccharides.

Source: The Journal Of Nutrition 

Losing Weight - Go Easy On Processed Grains

Pritikin - Longevity Center and Spa, explains that if you wish to shed pounds to first focus on fruits and vegetables.

At least nine servings per day. Ounce for ounce, fruits and vegetables have more nutrients and fewer calories than any other food.

Pritikin goes on to explain that the good-for-weight-loss whole grains are those like, brown rice, whole oats, and unhulled barley. As they have not gone through the grinding, or processing, of their kernels into flour.

The More You Know

The processing of whole grains removes their nutritional value.

Fortified processed foods are not the same as when they contained their nutrients before the processing procedure.

processing of whole grains removes their nutritional valueThese whole grains, when cooked, have only about 500 calories per pound, which means you can eat them until comfortably full without worrying about eating a lot of calories.

The not-good-for-weight-loss grains are those, like whole-grain breads, whole-grain bagels, and whole-grain crackers and chips, in which the kernels have been ground into flour.

When this processing happens, the product is much more calorie dense.

When you have the option to choose, it is better to opt for complex carbohydrates more than simple carbohydrates because the former contains more nutrition.

Furthermore, along with your complex carbohydrates, eat plenty of protein rich foods that are also sources of needed vitamins and minerals.

Also include healthy amounts of dietary fat to help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins from the foods you eat.

A healthy, balanced diet can also lower your risk of many lifestyle diseases.

Do You Have A Problem With Digesting Dietary Fat
If You Find Your Poop Floating Instead Of Sinking To The Bottom Of The Toilet Bowl -

You May Have A Problem Digesting Fat -

Fat Is Necessary For A Healthy Body As well As For Fat-Soluble Vitamins -

Without Digested Fat Many Of The Fat-Soluble B-Vitamins Will Wash Out Of The Body -

B-Vitamins Are Needed For Healthy Nerve Function And Absorption Of Minerals Like Magnesium Among Others -

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