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The Importance of Carbohydrates

By: Annemarie Morrell, Winthrop University Student


With so many diet fads and false information on the internet people can get confused with what's good for their health and what’s not. One popular diet that was more prominent in the 2000’s

was cutting out carbs in the diet. While this was a trend back then, some people still have the

idea that they shouldn't be eating carbs or they should be limiting their carb intake. Of course

everybody is different and what you need might be different from another person but thinking

that carbs are flat out bad for you is just not the case.


The Truth on Carbs

Foods that are high in carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy complete diet. Carbs

provide the body with glucose which is then converted to energy used to support our body to

function properly and for physical activity. Carbohydrates are the body's main source for energy,

this means they help fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles, and your central nervous system.

They are made of fiber, starch, and sugar. Fiber is an important carbohydrate that aids in

digestion and it also keeps you feeling full and keeps blood cholesterol levels normal.

Carbohydrates also regulate your mood since low blood sugar can induce mood swings and

irritation. They also help with gaining muscle, daily exercise, and relieving muscle fatigue.

Carbohydrates can be found in dairy, fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, seeds, and sweets.


Simple Carbs vs. Complex Carbs

People sometimes get simple carbs versus complex carbs confused. Or they have heard eating

complex carbs is better for you than simple ones, but on food labels they don’t exactly tell you

which one you are consuming. Grasping how these carbs are categorized and how they behave in your body can help make the choice.


Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbs get broken down in the body very fast so they can be used for energy, these are

mostly sugars. These are found naturally in fruit and milk. They can also be found in table sugar,

soda, and syrups as well. These are sometimes added to foods through sugar, corn syrup,

glucose, or fruit juice concentrate. These simple carbs are also known as refined carbs. Refined

carbs are foods that have been stripped of the fiber, bran, or nutrients. Examples include white

bread, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, and some breakfast cereals. Eating anything in moderation is fine but filling up and eating a lot of refined carbs or processed foods can lead to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.



Complex Carbohydrates

Complex Carbs are found in foods such as whole grains which are good sources of fiber, fiber rich fruits such as apples, berries, or bananas, fiber rich vegetables including broccoli, and leafy greens, beans which contain fiber and folate, iron, and potassium. They also provide vitamins and minerals which are key elements to staying healthy. The main source of carbohydrates in your diet

should come from more complex carbohydrates and naturally occurring sugars rather than processed or refined sugar, which typically don't have the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are found in the complex carbs. They also have more nutrients and are higher in fiber which help foods digest more slowly.



Choosing the right carbohydrate takes time and hopefully with the information given you can have a better understanding of the differences in simple and complex carbs. Carbohydrates play an important role in our health by giving us energy to support our daily activities and our body’s functions. They contain so many benefits and should not be looked at in a negative way. Again, every person is different so for some it might help to lower carb intake and for some it could be as simple as limiting simple carbs in the diet. But having more knowledge on carbs can only help make this decision.




References

Complex carbohydrates: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia Image. MedlinePlus.

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19529.htm. Accessed September 27, 2022.

Cherney K. Simple carbohydrates vs. complex carbohydrates. Healthline.

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/simple-carbohydrates-complex-

carbohydrates#carbs-to-eat-more-of. Published August 19, 2020. Accessed September 27,

2022.

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