What is the difference between good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are complex sugars that the body uses for energy production. These are nutrients that are divided into different types: disaccharides, trisaccharides and polysaccharides. What differentiates them is the time in which the energy produced by these carbohydrates is released by our body: that is the glycemic index. If you take foods that contain low glycemic index carbohydrates, those that release energy slowly, we are talking about "good" carbohydrates; if we consume foods with a high glycemic index, that quickly release energy, we are talking about "bad" carbohydrates that help to preserve excess sugar, turning it into fat, without burning it. Therefore, simple carbohydrates such as dextrose, sucrose, fructose syrup and all those ingredients that end in "ose" should be avoided. It must be favored instead the consumption of complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, legumes, seeds, dried fruit: complex carbohydrates are found in vegetables in the form of fibers and starch.

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Why it is important to consume complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates help control glucose levels, bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides in the blood, as well as promoting weight loss, as they increase the sense of satiety. The World Health Organization (WHO) and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) recommend ingesting between 50-60% of the total carbohydrate energy, of which only 10% must consist of simple carbohydrates.

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One of the most used carbohydrates by our body is glucose: a source of energy for almost all the cells of the body, it is stored by the muscles, in the form of glycogen, developing resistance, and it is useful for satisfying the energy needs of our brain. This is why it is important to provide your body with the right amount of good carbohydrates.

Good carbohydrates: the best to choose for our diet

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Let's find out what are the "good" carbohydrates that are most useful to the body: they will give the right energy and help you keep fit. In our daily diet bread, pasta and whole grains, that are rich in fiber and vitamins, must be always present. These whole carbohydrates have a lower glycemic index than their refined variant, namely white bread and pasta and durum wheat rice. They then guarantee energy for a long time release and they increase the sense of satiety. For breakfast, you must prefer wholegrain barley and rice, avoiding breakfast preparations that contain simple sugars, such as glucose syrup and molasses, elements that interfere with the hypoglycemic action of the fibers.

Dried nuts and seeds are also considered good carbohydrates, especially almonds and walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds. Dried fruit is also rich in Omega 3, it helps reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood and it gives energy: it is a perfect snack to calm down hunger. You can add it chopped to salads, yogurt or soups, if you don’t particularly like it.

Then there are the legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas, to be preferred, however, the dry ones, instead of those canned or pre-cooked. Depending on the variety we find 18 to 25 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams of beans, 18-20 grams for lentils and 20 grams for chickpeas. In addition to good carbohydrates, legumes are also a source of iron and proteins: therefore they must be always present in our diet, to be consumed at least 2-3 times a week. Among the vegetables that are good carbohydrates, there are also green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and cabbage which are also rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Also fresh fruit falls into the category of foods that contain good carbohydrates: although they provide more sugar, it is natural sugar. It also contains fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins and mineral salts, which make it essential for our diet.