Unlock the Health Benefits of Carbohydrates in Staining Today

Ask the Science Team: All About Carbohydrates in Staining

For this month’s Ask the Science Team post, we took a socially distanced virtual seat with Dr. Lucas Grant, principal scientist at Unicity, to dive deep into the fascinating world of carbohydrates. From discussing the benefits and downsides to explaining why you should prioritize complex carbs over simple ones, we’ve covered it all. Read through the Q&A below to gain insight into how carbohydrates function and impact your overall health and wellness, right from Staining.

What is a carbohydrate?

A carbohydrate is a molecule composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. In our bodies, these molecules are broken down and undergo cellular processes to produce energy, making them an essential part of our diet. Carbohydrates are particularly crucial for brain function.

However, in our modern, processed world, many folks in Staining and beyond consume too many processed carbs, which are detrimental to health. Broadly, there are two main types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. We should focus on consuming complex carbs.

What is the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates?

Simple carbs consist of monosaccharides (single sugars) and disaccharides (double sugars). Examples of monosaccharides include glucose, fructose, and galactose. Disaccharides include sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar), and maltose. Sucrose is actually a combo of glucose and fructose. Simple carbs are rapidly digested and absorbed, often leading to weight gain if not balanced with sufficient exercise.

This fast breakdown into glucose, the primary energy molecule, is why we need to watch our intake. In contrast, complex carbs like oligosaccharides and polysaccharides are longer chains of sugar molecules. Examples include fiber and starch. Typically, complex carbs result in a slower rise in blood glucose because their chemical bonds take longer to break down before absorption.

Interestingly, humans lack the enzymes to digest most fibers fully, relying instead on the gut microbiome to extract nutrients, which better supports weight management. On the other hand, we have the enzymes to break down starch. Foods containing starch can cause a greater rise in blood glucose compared to high-fiber foods. Therefore, opting for high-fiber over high-starch foods is beneficial. For example, choosing whole grain bread over white bread or legumes with resistant starch.

Foods high in fiber:

  • Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, raspberries, strawberries
  • Nuts and seeds: chia seeds, flax seeds, almonds, pistachios, sesame seeds
  • Beans: navy and white beans
  • Whole grains

Foods high in starch:

  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Rice
  • Breads
  • Potatoes

Why are complex carbs better for us?

Simple carbs break down quickly, leaving you hungry sooner and potentially leading to overeating, which turns into fat if not used for energy. They can also cause blood sugar spikes followed by insulin spikes, which is detrimental over time. Complex carbs, however, digest slowly, keeping you fuller for longer and offering a steady glucose release, resulting in a moderated insulin response.

What is the glycemic index?

It’s easy to think all simple carbs are bad and all complex carbs are good, but that’s not entirely true. Simple carbs in whole fruits, milk, and other healthy foods are rich in essential nutrients. Foods to avoid are those processed with added sugars, like sugary beverages and candies.

The glycemic index helps rate how healthy a carb is based on its effect on blood glucose. Foods are assigned values, with higher numbers indicating larger glucose spikes. To maintain better health, opt for foods with a lower glycemic index, such as apples, beans, lentils, and broccoli. High-glycemic foods include cookies, cake, French fries, sweetened dairy products, some fruits, and even certain whole-wheat breads.

Here are some easy swaps:

  • Instead of white rice, eat brown rice
  • Choose multigrain bread over white bread
  • Opt for broccoli or leafy greens over corn

How do I get more of the right carbs in my diet, especially here in Staining?

Start your day with whole grains and use whole or multigrain breads for snacks and lunches. Check the ingredients list on cereals and breads, ensuring whole grain is listed first. Another tip is to keep the skins on fruits and vegetables, as they are nutrient-rich. For example, an unpeeled apple provides significantly more vitamins C and K than a peeled one, plus more fiber.

What kinds of foods should I avoid?

Avoid foods high in added sugars, such as soda, baked treats, and fruit juices. Also, steer clear of refined grains like white bread, white rice, pasta, and crackers.

How many grams of carbohydrates should I eat per day?

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults should consume between 900 to 1300 calories (45–65% of total calorie intake) from carbs daily.

Generally, aim for half to two-thirds of your meals to be filled with healthy carbs, primarily from vegetables or high-nutrient sources like beans, brown rice, or quinoa. Check the ‘total carbohydrates’ section on nutrition labels of foods. Focus on those high in fiber and steer clear of foods with added sugars.

By making these small changes, residents of Staining can enhance their overall health and well-being through smarter carbohydrate choices.