Plant Based Diet
Plant Based Diet
By | July 14th, 2013 | Modified - July 19th, 2014

What Are Good Carbs? Good Carbs Vs Bad Carbs

What Are Good Carbs?
What Are Good Carbs?

There is so much conflicting information going around about carbohydrates and people want to know what are good carbs, and are carbs bad for you? I want to scream that carbs are good for you and that carbohydrates support healthy living.

The real issue is that we need to avoid bad carbs, and good carbs are what we should eat. So what are good carbs, and what are bad carbs? Lets first understand what carbs are and their benefits before we get into good carbs vs bad carbs.

What Are Carbs?

Carbs are carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are organic compounds made of saccharide. Think of a saccharide as a sugar. These saccharides are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The body uses carbohydrates for energy by breaking them down into glucose, the essential source of energy the cells of our bodies use.

There are two basic groups of carbohydrates, one with a lower molecular weight, and the other with a higher molecular weight. The group with the lower molecular weight is often called simple carbohydrates (simple carbs), and consist of monosaccharides and disaccharides. The group with the higher molecular weight is often called complex carbohydrates (complex carbs), and consist of oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.

Simple carbs very often end in the suffix -ose. You will find fructose in fruits like apples, sucrose in cane sugar, and lactose in milk sugar. Complex carbs consist of starch and fiber. You will find starches in root vegetables, legumes, and grains, like yams, garbanzo beans, and wheat. Fiber is also a complex carbohydrate that is not digestible and it found in vegetables as well as fruit.

We have a definition of what carbs are but we still need to define what are good carbs and what are bad carbs? Lets first start with what are good carbs, simple carbs or complex carbs?

Simple Carbs

Simple carbohydrates also called simple carbs or simple sugars are burned quickly for energy and are less likely to be stored as fat. Carbs that are not used up before you go to sleep are turned into triglycerides and are stored in fat cells. Excessive storage of triglycerides can lead to obesity, and heart and health issues. I would view a simple carb as being a good carb, but it is not that easy.

This is where the story on simple carbs gets a bit tricky. We can’t lump simple carbs together, but many people do and that is why it is difficult to get a clear picture as to if simple carbs are good carbs or bad carbs.

Fructose

Let us start with fructose. You find this simple sugar in fruits and it is very good for you because it is quick burning and supplies the body with quick energy. It is a good carb. Fructose as part of a whole food fruit is good for you. It exists in a synergistic way with the nutrients and fiber of the fruit. It is balanced and the balance works well with the balance of the body. Its structure is in tune with the body.

Examples of good carbohydrates are: Fruits: apples, oranges, dates, mangos, papayas, berries, cherries, watermelon, peaches, pears, and nuts and legumes also contain fructose.

Sucrose

An issue is when fruit fructose is viewed the same way the simple sugar sucrose is viewed. Sucrose is usually processed from sugar cane or sugar beets and is concentrated in processed foods to make them taste sweeter, and is also used to make table sugar.

Using this processed concentrated sugar you consume way too much sugar at a time, and it doesn’t have the fiber and nutrients to regulate how it is absorbed into the bloodstream. This high concentration of sugar spikes the blood sugar level unnaturally and throws the body out of sync.

The processing of sucrose usually involves chemical treatment and bleaching. The processing strips the nutrients and fiber from the sugar and adds toxins which causes and anti-inflammatory reaction in the body.

To combat this manufacturers are now making raw sugar which bypasses the chemical alteration to make the sugar less toxic. This issue stills remains that the unnatural concentration of sugar can easily throw the body out of sync.

Maybe: Raw cane sugar, raw sugar beet sugar, and raw palm sugar bypasses the chemical alteration which introduces toxicity, but using too much can lead to obesity.
Bad Carbs: Some sweeteners are made of sucrose, and sucrose is added at alarming rates to soda, candy, cookies, cakes, pastries, ice cream, and energy drinks.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

The good carb fructose shouldn’t be confused with high fructose corn syrup, the bad carb. Foods that are processed with high fructose corn syrup contain bad carbs. Fructose in fruits is often confused with sucrose and high fructose corn syrup because they are simple carbs, and they are lumped together as bad carbs but it is important to remember that fructose in fruits are good carbs.

I emphasize this because I know people who avoided eating fruits because they were under the impression that fruits were bad to eat because they contained simple carbs or simple sugars, and they didn’t contain any good carbs.

High fructose corn syrup is a bad carb, and it undergoes chemical processing that introduces mercury into it, is addictive, and can set the stage for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Bad Carbs: You will find high fructose corn syrup in most processed foods that use sweeteners, because high fructose corn syrup is cheaper the produce. It is in soda, candy, cookies, cakes, hotdogs, pastries, ice cream, yogurt, bread, salad dressings, canned fruit, cereal bars, cereal, boxed processed macaroni, energy drinks. and more. The list of processed foods with bad carbs is exhaustive. We need to stop eating processed foods and move back to healthy living by eating a plant based diet.

Complex Carbs

Complex carbohydrates also called complex carbs are the carbs many people are taught to prefer over simple carbs. The reason is fructose in fruits is lumped together with sucrose and high fructose corn syrup which are the simple sugars that are bad carbs.

Complex carbs are also looked upon as good carbs and preferred over simple carbs because it takes longer for the body to break down complex carbs, so they stay in the body longer and cause you to be less hungry.

Since complex carbs stay in the body longer, there is a greater chance they won’t be completely used by the time you go to bed, at which point they are converted to and stored as fat adding to your weight gain.

I do eat some complex carbs, mainly in the form of garbanzo beans, but I mostly eat a lot of simple carbs in the form of fruits throughout the day. I don’t get hunger pains from eating a high fructose diet. I just eat more fruits and I stay energized and slim!

Natural complex carbs are mostly good carbs, and processed complex carbs are mostly bad carbs.

Good Carbs: Garbanzo beans, quinoa, wild rice, amaranth, black rice, kamut, yams, kidney beans, sweet potatoes, steel cut oats, squash, and beans.
Bad Carbs: White bread, wheat bread, processed pasta, processed oatmeal, potatoes, baked potato, french fries, wheat, buns, muffins, crackers, breakfast cereals, and pretzels to name a few.

What Are Good Carbs?

Good Carbs Vs Bad Carbs

Simple Carbs, fructose as part of fruits, are used quickly by the body. These simple carbs exist in a synergistic way with the fruit’s nutrients and fiber and work well with the body. Natural complex carbs are not bad but they just stay in the body longer and have more of a chance to be stored as fat in the body. Eat more simple carbs in the form of fruits and less natural complex carbs. These are both good carbs, but the simple carbs in fruits just interact better with the body.

I tested the idea that eating a lot of fruits would increase my energy and make my lose weight. I eat a plant based diet normally, but I increased my fruit intake by three times for a while and reduced my fat and complex carb intake. I had already had lost a lot of weight adopting a plant based diet and my weight stabilized and remain the same. After switching to a high fruit carb diet I lost more weight, more than I wanted to and I had to stop the high carb diet. I lost weight even though I increased my caloric intake.

Simple Carbs Vs Complex Carbs

Good Carbs: Eat more simple carbs from fruits and less complex carbs from legumes, root vegetables, and nuts.

Good Carbs Vs Bad Carbs

Good Carbs: Simple carbs and complex carbs found in natural foods.
Bad Carbs: Simple and complex carbs used in processed foods.

References:
Carbohydrates and the Glycemic Load

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About

I obtained a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University. I eat a plant based diet and I am an avid researcher of the benefits of a whole food, plant based alkaline diet. I obtained a BA in Organizational Behavior and Communications from NYU, worked as an elementary school teacher, and have studied social work. I am a web designer/developer and I enjoy boxing, kick boxing, cycling, power walking, and basically anything challenging. Eating a plant based diet and exercising is a great way to achieve healthy living. ~ Natural Life Energy

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