Sugar and starch


Carbohydrates are the sugars and starches in the diet. Glucose is the basic building block of starch and is the sugar in the blood that each cell in the body uses. It occurs widely in nature and is the usual form in which carbohydrate is assimilated by animals. ‘Complex’ carbohydrates are starches in their natural, unrefined form. They include potatoes, pasta, rice, beans, whole wheat bread, and apples. The sugar in complex carbohydrates is absorbed slowly into your bloodstream, so your blood sugar and energy levels remain constant. ‘Simple’ carbohydrates are such things as refined sugar, honey, molasses, and alcohol. They have no fiber or bulk, are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, and are quickly converted to sugar. Diets high in complex carbohydrates have been shown to be beneficial to the heart and for people with such diseases as diabetes and hypoglycemia, in which the body has difficulty maintaining proper levels of sugar in the blood. Because they take a lot of calories for your body to digest and don’t convert easily to dietary fat, complex carbohydrates are also helpful in avoiding weight gain. They’re more filling than simple sugars and lower in calories than fat. Many athletes are finding that a diet high in complex carbohydrates and low in saturated fat provides the energy they need better than high-fat foods and doesn’t have the fat and cholesterol that promote disease.

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