How Do I Choose the Right Carbs?

Last Update: February 25, 2024

I hear so much about healthy whole grains, but I don’t really know why they’re good for me. What’s the difference between complex and simple carbs?

Carbs have been wrongfully labeled the enemy. I’m here to tell you that you can happily invite carbs into your diet. In fact, if you completely eliminate carbs, you will be doing more harm than good.

It’s all about choosing the right carbs. Both simple and complex carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, providing fuel for our daily activities, and normal body functions.

Simple carbs are broken down rapidly, causing your blood sugar to spike. Although some fruits and vegetables are classified as simple carbs, they’re naturally occurring and provide nutrients. Most simple carbs however, are made with highly processed, refined sugars. These sugars are often referred to as “empty calories” because they provide little nutritional value. Some classic examples you might recognize: soda, white bread, white rice, pastries, sugar, and high fructose corn syrups.

Complex carbs are longer chains of sugar molecules, which provide your body with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They do not cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to aggressively fluctuate, as energy is released more slowly. Some healthy, wholesome complex carbs to start eating include whole grains, lentils, beans, and a wide range of fruits and vegetables.

The holy grail of complex carbs really is the whole grains. Whole grains have not been processed and still contain all their naturally occurring nutrients. This means that all of the original nutrients found in the original grain or seed, get transferred to your body when you eat whole grains. Barley, buckwheat, millet, rye, quinoa, bulgur, oats, and wild rice are all great examples of these foods.

So don’t be frightened by carbs. Just choose the right ones!

Photo credit: Paul Delmont

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Elissa Goodman

Elissa Goodman is a cancer survivor and graduate from the American University of Complementary Medicine for Integrative Nutrition. Elissa believes proper nutrition and self love is vital to living a fulfilled existence, and specializes in helping people achieve optimum health levels through cleansing and nutrition. Elissa works with clients suffering with a range of issues from SIBO, thyroid irregularities, weight gain, and allergies to nutritional based integrative cancer therapy (incorporating both conventional and holistic treatment methods). Her goal is to partner with her clients, support them in finding their true balance and well-being, and support them in living their best life!

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