The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Truth about Carbohydrates

Published:November 3rd, 2011
© Ariel da Silva Parreira; http://www.sxc.hu/

Carbohydrates are the most abundant macronutrient available in the world today. Carbohydrates are staple to all cuisines and cultures. Over the past few years, carbohydrates have gained a reputation for being your worst enemy when dieting. Thanks to fad diets, carbohydrates have gained notoriety in the food world.  Some researchers have touted carbohydrates to be good for long-term health. So which is it? Is it good or is it bad. The truth is it is both. Fortunately, they can be easily classified and you can choose the best that suits you and your lifestyle. You can choose the best carbohydrates and reap the benefits to fall back to not so good carbohydrates and suffer the consequences.

The Good Carbohydrates:
The good carbohydrates are also known as complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates provide vitamins, fiber and phytochemicals along with carbohydrate grams. These foods include whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits. They also include nutrient rich foods such as dairy products, even though they are low in fiber. These foods regulate blood sugar levels at an even pace and the spike in glucose level is absent when these foods are consumed. These foods digest at a slower pace and provide the body with much needed nutrients. The fiber is not absorbed but it is beneficial in many other ways. Choosing these foods provides you with essential carbohydrates and reduces the risk of certain long-term illnesses such as cancer and obesity. These types of carbohydrates should be a part of your daily meal plan. They promote satiety and weight loss. These carbohydrates should be in your eat often category.

The Not-So-Good Carbohydrates:
These carbohydrates do have some nutrients or some fiber in them, but is not as wholesome as the complex carbohydrates. These include foods made from somewhat processed flours such as all purpose flour or corn meal.  They retain some nutrients, but most of the fragile phytochemicals and vitamins are lost in the process. Foods like croissants, biscuits or dinner rolls are included in this list. The amounts of calories depend on how many grams of carbohydrate and other macronutrients added to the preparation of the food. Since these foods lack fiber, you may find that you are able to eat a larger serving of such foods thus increasing the amount of calories ingested. These carbohydrates should be in your eat occasionally category.

The Bad Carbohydrates:
These are simple sugars. They have no nutritional value except. All they provide is calories. These foods also increase the blood glucose levels quickly that causes the peak. They also contribute to various diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, colon irregularities and obesity. They are considered the downfall of a dieter. These are highly processed foods and contain preservatives and other additives that may contribute to certain types of cancers. These foods include candies, cakes, pies and other overly sweet items. They also provide 4 calories per gram like any other carbohydrate, but since they are so concentrated in sweets that you generally get more grams of carbohydrates in a serving as compared to a complex carbohydrate. These carbohydrates should be in your eat rarely and sparingly category.

Other Carbohydrates:
Some food labels include sugar alcohol in them. This type of carbohydrate has an alcohol molecule at the end. They take a long time to digests and by the time it is broken down, the particle usually reaches the colon where the bacteria break it down. They do provide a small amount of calories. However, for most people 20 to 50 grams of sugar alcohol causes intestinal disorders like diarrhea. This type of sugar is found in sugar free gum or sugar free mints.

Carbohydrate is very important for the body to function at its maximum capacity. A carbohydrate free diet can cause side effects such a fatigue. Choosing your carbohydrates wisely can help you in your weight loss goals.

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