What Is The Sweetest-Tasting Simple Carbohydrate in The Diet?
Carbohydrates are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in the simplest sense. The sugars we eat comprise a single sugar unit or monosaccharide joined with a water molecule. Glucose is one of these single simple molecules, and fructose is another.
To be metabolized by our bodies, they need to be broken down into two sugar units – di-saccharides – in preparation for absorption through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream.
This can occur either enzymatically in our gut (in the case of fruits) or when an enzyme splits sucrose (ordinary white table sugar) called sucrase that lives on the surface of cells within the small intestine. These then pass into our bloodstream and are carried off for energy by every cell in our body.
The absorption of glucose and fructose into the blood is not instantaneous. There is a delay of about 20 minutes before peak levels are reached. This is why we should avoid eating sugar-rich snacks between meals, as any glucose that isn’t used straight away will be converted into glycogen (a type of starch) and stored in our liver and muscles. Any glycogen not required for primary energy production will be converted into fat and added to our waistlines!
The glycaemic index (GI) measures how quickly a carbohydrate food causes blood sugar levels to rise. Foods with a high GI, such as white bread, cause blood sugar levels to spike rapidly.
This, in turn, causes the pancreas to secrete large amounts of insulin, which drives the sugar from the blood into our cells, where it is used for energy. The problem with this is that over time our cells become less and less sensitive to insulin (a condition known as insulin resistance), and we start to put on weight.
Low GI foods, such as whole grains and legumes, cause a much more gradual rise in blood sugar levels and don’t produce the same roller coaster effect as high GI foods. This is why people who eat a low GI diet tend to lose weight and better control their blood sugar levels.
So what are some excellent low GI sugar substitutes?
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol found naturally in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables. It has similar properties to sucrose (table sugar), with one-third fewer calories, which makes it particularly useful for people trying to lose weight or reduce their sugar intake. Xylitol also has an anti-bacterial effect that reduces the amount of cavity-creating bacteria in your mouth – something that can be especially beneficial if you snack between meals on sugary foods like candy and ice cream.
Xylitol is often touted as a perfect sweetener. Still, I’m not convinced this is true for most people personally because it contains only about two-thirds as many calories per gram as sucrose. I say this because if you are used to eating a lot of sugar, then xylitol will not seem very sweet.
Stevia is a plant-derived sweetener that is 300 times sweeter than sucrose. It doesn’t contain any calories and has a zero glycaemic index, making it an excellent choice for people with diabetes or trying to lose weight. Stevia can be used as a tabletop sweetener or in cooking and baking.
Agave nectar is a syrup made from the agave plant native to Mexico. It is high in fructose (about 70%) and has a low glycaemic index, making it a good choice for people with diabetes or trying to lose weight.
It is slightly sweeter than sugar, so you may need to use half as much. Agave nectar also has a low glycaemic index (GI) of around 26 which means it won’t cause your blood sugar to spike like other sweeteners will do if you are trying to lose weight.
Complex carbohydrates are found in plant foods such as grains, legumes, and vegetables. These carbs are made up of long chains of sugar molecules that the body takes time to break down into simple sugars.
This slow digestion process means complex carbs provide a steadier stream of energy than simple carbs. Complex carbs also tend to be high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making them a healthier choice than refined carbs.
When choosing complex carbs, whole grains are a good option. They provide more fiber and nutrients than processed grains, such as white bread and pasta. In addition to whole grains, try incorporating high-fiber vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts into your diet. Legumes, such as lentils and beans, are excellent sources of complex carbs and fiber.
Simple carbohydrates are found in fruits, dairy products, and processed foods made with white flour or sugar. These carbs are made up of one or two sugar molecules, which means they are digested quickly by the body. This fast digestion process results in a quick burst of energy that is soon followed by a slump. Simple carbs also tend to be low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Difference between simple and complex carbohydrates:
The most significant difference between simple and complex carbohydrates is their digestion speed. Simple carbs are digested quickly, while complex carbs are digested slowly. This difference in digestion speed means that simple carbs provide a quick burst of energy, while complex carbs provide a steadier stream of energy.
In addition to their digestion speed, another difference between simple and complex carbs is their nutrient content. Simple carbs are generally low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, while complex carbs are high in these nutrients. This difference means that complex carbs are a healthier choice than simple carbs.
Choosing healthy carbohydrates:
When choosing healthy carbohydrates, whole grains and high-fiber vegetables are the best options. These foods provide more fiber and nutrients than processed grains and vegetables. In addition to whole grains and high-fiber vegetables, try incorporating legumes into your diet. Legumes are a good source of complex carbs and fiber.
It is also essential to limit your intake of simple carbohydrates. These foods provide a quick burst of energy but are low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. So, while they are OK in moderation, it is best to avoid eating them all the time.
complex vs. straightforward carbs:
So, what’s the difference between simple and complex carbs? The main difference is their digestion speed: simple carbs are digested quickly, while complex carbs are digested slowly. In addition to digestion speed, another difference between simple and complex carbs is their nutrient content.
Simple carbs are generally low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, while complex carbs are high in these nutrients. This difference means that complex carbs are a healthier choice than simple carbs.