Carbohydrates are found in all plant produce and plant based products as well as dairy and dairy products. Meat products contain no carbohydrates at all. It should be noted, however, that some processed meat products can contain carbohydrates due to the treatment and processing processes where sugar might have been added.
Carbs are the body’s main source of energy and are broken down in the bloodstream to form glucose, which fuels the body.
Carbs consists of three main categories:
Sugars are found in most fruits and vegetables and dairy products. The most common forms of sugar are fructose, found in fruit; lactose, found in dairy, and sucrose, which is commonly found in sugar cane and processed sugars.
Sugars are generally referred to as simple carbs, meaning that they are broken down much quicker in the body than a complex carbs.
Starch, on the other hand, is a complex carb, meaning that the body takes longer to break it down. Starches are generally vegetables, grains and legumes.
Dietary fibre is present in most foods, but it cannot be digested by the body. Dietary fibre is vital in keeping your digestive system clean and healthy and it aids in maintaining cholesterol levels.
SIMPLE VS COMPLEX CARBS
As mentioned, sugars are referred to as simple carbs, while starches are considered complex carbs. But which is which and how do I identify simple from complex?
Simple carbs are found in fresh fruits and processed products that can be quickly and easily absorbed into the bloodstream. A fast and simple rule to recognise a simple carb is by its texture. Soft fruits typically lack rough fibres, as do most processed foods such as refined sugar, honey, syrup, sweets and candy, white bread, processed grains such as white rice, cakes and desserts etc.
Complex carbs, or starch, typically are high in fibre and therefore take longer to be broken up into the bloodstream. Examples of starches are whole wheat grains, starchy vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes, legumes and whole wheat breads and cereals.