Carbohydrates or glucides are organic compounds whose main function is to provide energy for the brain. But: do you know all the varieties of carbohydrates that are out there? Not all of them are good for your body! If you want to have a healthy and balanced diet, keep on reading and remember our tips.
What are carbohydrates? What’s the difference between simple and complex sugars?
Together with proteins and fats, carbohydrates form the three main macronutrients, which are essential for a balanced diet and should be present in each meal. To have a healthy diet, it is important to know the difference between carbohydrates and simple and complex sugars.
Simple and complex carbohydrates: Which ones to choose?
Which are the best carbs for us? The first thing you need to know is that there are two types of sugars (or carbs): simple and complex.
- Simple sugars: high energy levels of short duration
Simple sugars are quickly digested and have very little nutritional value because they don’t have enough essential nutrients. They move more quickly into the blood stream and give high energy levels during very short time spans. Soft drinks, white sugar, processed juices or processed baked goods are examples of simple sugars. Because they provide lots of sugar in a very short time, the excess sugar is stored in the liver as fat which leads to overweight issues. Furthermore, an abusive consumption of simple sugars increases the risk of diabetes.Â
- Complex carbs: high nutritional value and long-lasting energy
Complex carbs or sugars Â are mostly rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals. They take longer to digest so they do not rapidly increase blood-sugar levels like simple sugars do and provide longer lasting energy. Furthermore, they have the benefit of being satisfying, and being one of the best options to prevent obesity. Vegetables, rice, bread, pasta or legumes are good examples of complex carbs.
To sum up: complex carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly in our bodies, have a higher fibre content and provide vitamins and minerals, so they are vital for a healthy and balanced diet.
Why are carbohydrates essential to our diet?
Are you still unsure about why carbs are a must in your everyday diet? Let’s sum up the main reasons:
- They provide less calories than fats.
- They are the fuel for our bodies and are essential to feed our brain and muscles.
- You burn them with exercise (they do not accumulate as body fat).
- It is possible to follow a diet replacing fats for starches and wholemeal grains.
How to add carbohydrates to a healthy diet?
The most important thing is to choose the right carbohydrates: wholemeal pastas, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products… and to limit any foods with added sugars. It is important to exercise and have healthy habits. Nutritionists recommend including slow absorption carbs in our diets about 3 times a week, and of those, at least one day should be pasta.
What types of carbs are there in pasta?
Many people who are concerned about maintaining the right weight mistakenly try to avoid pasta, thinking it helps them gain weight. That’s not true at all! Between 60 and 70% of pasta is made up of slow absorption carbohydrates (complex carbs). Around 12% are proteins and best of all: their fat content is practically zero. Pasta also provides vegetable fibre, which makes you feel full. This feeling lasts longer if you eat wholemeal pasta.
How many calories are there in a serving of pasta?
The approximate caloric value of a serving of pasta (60 g) is around 200 Kcal. But, to make your dish really healthy, don’t forget to take care with the ingredients in your sauce or side dish! Now that you have learnt in depth about the different types of carbohydrates and the benefits of having them in your daily diet, why not enjoy a delicious dish of pasta without feeling guilty?