Comparing Simple and Complex Carbohydrates in a Plant-Based Diet - dummies

Comparing Simple and Complex Carbohydrates in a Plant-Based Diet

By Marni Wasserman

It’s important to understand the different kinds of carbs and how to identify them. The simple ones are the ones you want to minimize so you can focus on the complex. Have a look.

Simple carbs

There are two types of simple carbohydrates: monosaccharides and disaccharides. Monosaccharides consist of only one sugar, and examples include fructose, galactose, and glucose. Disaccharides consist of two chemically linked monosaccharides, and they come in the form of lactose, maltose, and sucrose.

Foods that contain simple carbohydrates include table sugar, products made with white flour, dairy products, whole fruit, fruit juice, jam, soda, and packaged cereals. So it’s pretty obvious that simple carbohydrates should be ditched (except for the whole fruit, of course, as it contains fiber and many other wonderful nutrients).

Complex carbs

Complex carbohydrates have a higher nutritional value than simple carbohydrates because they consist of three or more sugars that are mostly rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Because of their complexity, they take a little longer to digest, and they don’t raise blood-sugar levels as quickly as simple carbohydrates.

Complex carbohydrates act as the body’s fuel, and they contribute significantly to energy production. They’re important in the absorption of certain minerals and the formation of fatty acids.

Foods that contain complex carbohydrates include oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and legumes.