All Carbs Are Not Created Equal
Due to the popularity of low-carb diets, carbohydrates are often feared and avoided. Because their role in weight management and health is misunderstood, many people drastically reduce or completely eliminate carbs. However, some experts warn that this may not be the best approach for overall wellness.
When people interested in weight loss and optimal health lump all carbohydrates together into one category, they declare war on the whole lot. But all carbs are not created equal. There are major differences between how the body handles simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates and how each impacts our weight and energy throughout the day.
Simple carbohydrates are absorbed quickly, spiking blood sugar and insulin levels. They provide a burst of energy that tends to be followed by a crash of fatigue and food cravings. According to the Cleveland Clinic, too many simple carbohydrates in one’s diet can both contribute to weight gain and also increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol. Examples include refined ingredients such as white flour found in breads, cakes, and pastries.
On the other hand, complex carbohydrates may play an important role in many biological functions including digestion, mood, metabolism, blood sugar regulation, hormone health, and sleep patterns. Because it takes our body longer to break down complex carbs, they keep us feeling fuller longer and provide consistent, long-lasting energy throughout the day. This helps regulate weight and keep cravings in check. Complex carbs are also beneficial to long-term health, as they may also reduce the risk of several chronic health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. (Source)
Complex carbohydrates are an important part of a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet. Examples include oats, lentils, beans, vegetables, and sprouted whole grain products such as Ezekiel 4:9 breads, English muffins, and tortillas. These foods are high in fiber and naturally rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
The takeaway? When eating for long-term health, include the right carbs in your diet — don’t avoid them completely. The American Heart Association agrees and recommends you limit foods that are high in processed, refined simple sugars and enjoy the benefits of nutritious complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and legumes.