Carbohydrates are the building blocks of our body. They are the body’s primary source of energy and essential for its proper functioning. In recent times there have been many debates on why they are wrong or good for you. Many people, fearing weight gain and obesity, cut out carbs entirely from their diet. But these low-carb diets have a harmful effect on various organs and can cause serious health repercussions.
Research has proved that not all carbohydrates are bad for you. Some are very beneficial and provide a load of essential nutrients. Depending on their chemical constitution, carbohydrates can be divided into three categories- sugars, starches, and fiber. They form an important pillar in a well-balanced diet, but only the right kinds will provide you with health and nutrition. Carbohydrates can also be divided into simple or complex carbs.
What Are Good Carbs?
Good carbohydrates are those that are healthy for the body. They are unprocessed and contain the right amount of fiber. Examples of good carbs would be vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, bananas, potatoes.
Good carbs are usually complex carbohydrates, i.e., they are made up of long chains of sugar molecules. In complex carbs, the energy is released gradually due to the presence of fiber. This leads to a slower spike in blood glucose and causes no worrisome fluctuations in the blood, and the energy release is more consistent compared to the bad carbs. The person feels fuller for longer and doesn’t face mood swings or frequent hunger pangs. Good carbs also improve metabolism and boost immunity.
Complex carbs are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Whole wheat flour, quinoa, brown rice, corn, barley and whole wheat bread and pasta. When consuming any whole wheat packaged product, check labels for added sugars. These should be low else the whole purpose is lost.
What Are Bad Carbs?
Bad carbs are those that provide us with energy but are not healthy and nutritious. They are processed and refined carbohydrates. Since these are stripped off their fiber, these are usually simple carbs. Examples of bad carbs would be colas, sweetened beverages, ice creams, French fries, products made with refined flour like white bread, white pasta, and white rice. The thumb rule is that whiter the product, more processed it is.
The reason why these carbs are bad for you is that they are readily broken down in the body, and the energy is released. This leads to a spike in the blood sugar. These are empty calories as the body gets the energy but no nutrition. Having a diet rich in refined carbs can lead to many diseases like diabetes, heart problems, obesity, Alzheimer’s and even cancer.
The way you cook your carbs has a telling effect on your health. Potatoes are good carbs until you make them into French fries. Balance is the key when it comes to carbohydrates. Choose ‘whole’ carbs and as close to their natural state as possible to stay healthy.