What Are Complex Carbs and Why Do We Need Them

Have you heard someone mention “complex carbs”, and you wondered what they were talking about? Basically, carbohydrates are either simple or complex. At first glance, you may think that simple carbohydrates are better for your body. They are broken down simply, so doesn’t it make sense that these would be healthy for you? Actually, the opposite is true.

The Difference Between Complex (Good) and Simple (Bad) Carbohydrates

Complex and simple carbohydrates differ in how they are absorbed into your body. They are also digested differently. Think of simple carbohydrates as simple sugars. Simple carbohydrates are broken down quickly and deliver no nutrition, just energy. Complex carbohydrates deliver lots of nutrients and minerals, as well as energy.

Complex carbohydrates have longer molecular chains. So it takes your body a long time to break them down and absorb them. This leads to an even distribution of energy over a longer period of time and a much longer feeling of fullness. Simple carbohydrates, like those delivered by refined sugar, enter your bloodstream immediately. They are processed quickly, have little nutritional value, and lead to fat storage, short spikes in energy and an energy crash.

Why Your Body Needs Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are important for a few reasons. As mentioned above, they are nutrient and mineral-rich. They have all of the vitamins, phytonutrients and healthy, natural goodness your body needs to function properly.

They are usually also very high in dietary fiber. Fiber keeps your digestive system working properly, and helps you regulate naturally healthy body weight. Complex carbs are energy-rich and deliver that energy consistently over a long period of time.

“Good” carbs promote proper sleep, boosted brain function and a healthy nervous system. In many cases, they are also low in calories, as opposed to unhealthy simple carbohydrates. Simply put, complex carbohydrates deliver much-needed benefits that promote inner and outer overall health.

Some Examples of Complex Carbohydrates

The following list includes some healthy complex carbohydrates you definitely should be eating more of.

  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Broccoli
  • Oatmeal
  • Spinach
  • Brown rice
  • Cucumbers
  • Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Beans
  • Soy Milk
  • Whole-grain bread

Simple Carbohydrates to Avoid

Avoid or limit the following simple carbs. Your health and waistline will thank you.

  • Sugar
  • White carbohydrates – rice, bread, pasta
  • Potatoes – technically a complex carbohydrate, they are treated like simple carbs in your body
  • Desserts, pastries
  • Artificial syrups
  • Candy and cookies
  • Soda and energy drinks


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