Complex Carbohydrates : What They Are and List Of Foods. Complex Carbohydrates are a type of carbohydrates which are different from simple carbohydrates. We take carbohydrates from food. Carbs ( short for carbohydrates ) are nutrients that provide energy to the body. The most common carbohydrates are sugars and starch. Sugars here refers to all the kinds of sugar and not just sugar crystals that we take. Here, sugar is a more general term. Most foods have some sugars and some starch.
Carbohydrates form part of the three major nutrients – Carbs, Fats and Protein. Balanced diets mention the correct proportions of each for staying healthy. Even within carbohydrates, there is a proposed percentage of simple vs complex carbohydrates that you must eat. So, what are complex carbohydrates, why they are complex and what are they good for ?
Complex carbohydrates are the carbs that are not simple. That is they are a more complex chemical structure of sugars. The types of sugars found in simple carbohydrates are glucose, fructose, lactose etc. You must be knowing that milk provides lactose and that some people have lactose intolerance. This example shows that milk provides simple sugars also. On the other side , there are many foods that provide complex carbohydrates.
A list of some foods that provide complex carbohydrates.
- The most commonly eaten source of complex carbohdrates are grains and cereals, taken in whole form. Whole grain cereals and whole grain breads provide complex carbohydrates. So, cereals like corn, millet , rice, barley, wheat, oats etc have complex carbohydrates.
- Most legumes have complex carbohydrates. This list includes foods like pulses and all kinds of beans. Pea also contains complex carbs.
- Most vegetables also contain complex carbohydrates. So, veggies like cauliflower, kale, spinach, pumpkin, brinjal ( egg plant ), potatoes, sweet potato, artichoke, celery and more. Almost any given vegetable has complex carbohydrates.
- Milk also provides some complex carbohydrates.
- Fruits also have complex carbohydrates, besides other nutrients like anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Why are Complex Carbohydrates Complex ? That is because they have energy in the form of complex sugars called starch. When we eat complex carbs, it breaks down slowly. After many steps , the nutrition provided by complex carbs is unwind in the form of sugars.
What are Complex carbohydrates good for ? They are digested slowly. The digestion of complex carbohydrates is slow enough to provide us with regular supply of energy over a longer period of time. This keeps our energy levels high. Complex carbohydrates also help us to feel full and strong. Complex Carbohydrates are great for diabetics as well, because it keeps their sugar levels under control. You may have noticed that many balanced diet plans contain foods from among this list of complex carbohydrates. Most refined products that come in the market have lower amount of complex carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals. That’s why, one must always try to eat natural whole grain products.
Complex carbohydrates are unique in the fact they cannot be substituted for. Food like whole grain breads, soy milk, yogurt, vegetables and fruits are an indispensable part of our daily diet. Our body requires a lot of calories to perform properly and we get that energy partly from carbohydrates. Some part of that energy must also come from fats and proteins though.
One should eat a diet that is only rich in carbohydrates. That is because carbohydrates contain the most calories and these calories can add up to more calories than your burn each day. This simple process can also lead to weight gain. So, even carbs can cause weight gain, apart from fats.