Carbohydrates can be found in majority of the five main food groups and play an important role in our day to day lives. There are many functions of carbohydrates which include preventing the body from using proteins as a source of energy as well as enabling fat metabolism. Carbohydrates also have impacts on the brain which can be observed in terms of one’s mood and memory.
There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. The two types differ in their chemical structure. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed and digested at a faster rate and can be found in foods such as fruits and milk products. Simple carbohydrates can also be found in candies and sodas which are processed and do not contain vitamins, minerals, or fibre. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods like sweet potatoes, brown rice, and corn. They provide a quick and sustained source of energy. In comparison, the energy provided by simple carbohydrates is much quicker and is not sustained – instead it leads to spikes in blood sugar levels. It is better to include complex carbohydrates in one’s diet instead of simple carbohydrates.
Simple carbohydrates come in two forms: as simple sugars and as a combination of two sugars. The simple sugars include glucose, fructose, and galactose. The latter includes sucrose, lactose, and maltose. Complex carbohydrates are a combination of more than two simple sugars which is why it takes longer for them to break down.
Simple carbohydrates influence weight gain. Since simple carbohydrates are calories without the health benefits of complex carbohydrates, the energy is not sustained and therefore leads individuals towards eating more calories than needed.
There is a big difference between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. Naturally occurring sugars come with proteins and fibres, and are healthier than added sugars. Added sugar is unhealthy because the added sugars have low nutritional value and foods and drinks that are rapidly absorbed generate the feeling of a ‘crash’ shortly after consumption.
In conclusion, there are many differences between the two types of carbohydrates and it is essential to keep the differences in mind when deciding what to eat. Opting for more complex carbohydrates and avoiding added sugars will lead you to live a healthier lifestyle.