The Real Difference Between Simple Carbs And Complex Carbs

Carbohydrates are an essential part of any healthy diet. According to Healthline, they are made of sugars, fiber, and starch. Sometimes they get bad publicity, but that is partly because some are healthier than others. Carbohydrates fall into two categories: simple and complex. Knowing the difference can help you make more informed food choices that potentially lead to greater health outcomes. So let's start by understanding the differences between them.

Simple carbohydrates often get added to processed foods, Healthline explains. Examples of these ingredients are raw and brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, fructose, sucrose, and fruit juice concentrate. Most of the time, these ingredients show up in packaged food items like soda, cookies, and baked goods. The American Heart Association explains that simple carbohydrates get digested quickly, leaving you crashing after experiencing a burst of energy. Ultimately, these carbohydrates have little fiber or nutrients. But are complex carbohydrates any better?

Complex carbohydrates contain valuable nutrients and fiber

Unlike simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates have nutrients the body needs. Healthline notes that there are different kinds of complex carbs: fiber and starch. Fiber is one of the most important additions to our diets as it helps regulate blood sugar and ensure bowel regularity. Examples of foods high in dietary fiber include beans, nuts, whole grains, and certain fruits and vegetables. 

And starches are another healthy addition to our diets (per the NHS). Starches help give us energy and are found in nutrient-dense foods. They also contain fewer calories than fat when compared gram for gram. While starch is often found in the same foods that contain fiber, you want to be on the lookout for these in particular: whole wheat bread, whole-grain cereal, rice, corn, oats, and peas, according to Healthline. A couple of health benefits often associated with a diet rich in complex carbohydrates include a lowered risk of type-2 diabetes and healthy weight maintenance.