The Low-down on Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates give the body energy. They are composed of sugar molecules and are the body’s fuel. They are essential for good health, but some carbohydrates are good and some are not.
Carbohydrates can be found in many foods and if the body gets more than it can burn, then any left-overs are stored as fat.
Complex carbs are the good carbs and they are starches made up of long chains of sugar. The body breaks them down slowly to glucose and as they enter the bloodstream gradually they can provide energy over a long period. Good carbs come from whole grain or whole wheat products, like bread, cereals and pasta.
Sports people about to take part in a large event such as a marathon or half marathon, will have pasta meal some time before the race. The complex carbs in the food will give the necessary energy for the event.
These complex carbohydrates also come with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients – more essential requirements for a healthy body.
Now for the bad carbs – they tend to come in the tasty wicked stuff. They are the basic sugars in cola drinks, sodas and sweets. They are also in complex carbs that have been stripped of the good components during processing. They end up in white flour, white bread, cakes, biscuits and crackers.
Simple carbohydrates are the basic sugars, like table sugar, sucrose, glucose and fructose which is sugar in fruit and honey. They require virtually no digesting and enter the blood stream immediately. They provide a very quick source of energy but give a sudden peak in the blood’s sugar levels.
White rice is in the same category. Originally it is whole grain brown rice, then the outer layer is removed and discarded, taking with it the fibre, vitamins and minerals. What’s left is the white centre which is light and quick to cook, but it’s really only a little piece of sugar.
There are two problems with these bad carbs. Firstly, they are in the blood stream extremely quickly causing a peak in sugar levels and creating a fast sugar-burst of energy.
Secondly, they are devoid of the vitamins, minerals and fibre which were present in the original unrefined product. The body needs the sugar but only in combination with the vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Sometimes ingredients might say “Enriched white flour”, which as a con. Something has been added back but most of the good essentials are still lost.
An excess of carbohydrates, particularly the bad carbs, leads put a person putting on weight and with it comes a higher risk of type-2 diabetes.
The conclusion is use cereals, breads and pastas made from unrefined whole grain. The ingredients will say whole wheat, wholemeal or whole grain.
Bye for now,