When you hear the term “carbohydrate” or “carb,” what comes to your mind? Carbohydrates (carbs) are usually given a bad rap and tend to be associated with weight gain, sugar, bread, and pasta. They are also one of the first things that are limited in today’s most popular diets. In reality, carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients that your body needs to function.
It is true, carbs are found in the usual culprits like bread, pasta, and sweets, but they can also be found in dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.), beans, fruit, and starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn, peas, carrots, etc.). Carbs can be classified as simple or complex. Simple carbs are broken down quickly in your body and will cause a spike in your blood sugar. Examples of simple carbs are desserts, soda, fruit, and milk products. Complex carbs are more difficult for your body to break down and raise your blood sugar slower than simple carbohydrates. Examples of complex carbs are whole grains, vegetables, and beans. Let’s not forget about fiber! Fiber is a type of complex carb that is found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and is important in aiding digestion, controlling blood sugar levels, and lowering cholesterol.
It is important to have a healthy balance of both simple and complex carbs in your diet. Excessive amounts of carbs lead to spiked blood sugar levels. Over time this will wreak havoc on your blood vessels and may lead to diseases such as type II diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, impaired vision, and nerve damage. Individuals diagnosed with type II diabetes especially must be especially aware of the carbs they are consuming in order to control their blood sugar levels. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet along with physical activity can help you prevent or manage a number of chronic diseases.