Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are the three groups of macronutrients that are essential components of any diet. There are, however, different types of carbohydrates, and this difference must be understood in order to know which ones can be eaten and which ones should be avoided in case of diabetes.
Simple and complex carbohydrates
Carbohydrates - one of the main sources of energy - are necessary for a healthy diet. Different types of carbohydrates differ in their effects on the human body. Carbohydrates include fiber, starch and sugar.
There are three groups of carbohydrates:
- Monosaccharides: This is a basic form of carbohydrates, including glucose and fructose (found in berries, fruits, and some vegetables).
- Disaccharides: these are two monosaccharide molecules linked together. They include lactose (found only in milk and dairy products) and sucrose (also found in berries, fruits, and some vegetables).
- Polysaccharides: these are chains of more than two monosaccharide molecules linked together. Include fiber (found in grains, fruits, vegetables, berries, roots, mushrooms, algae, nuts, legumes) and starch (found in grains, roots, legumes, some vegetables and fruits).
Monosaccharides and disaccharides - these are different types of sugar, they are called simple carbohydrates. This is a fast source of energy, that is, they cause a sharp jump in blood sugar immediately after consumption, which is very dangerous in diabetes.
Fiber and starch are polysaccharidesknown as complex carbohydrates. They consist of long chains of molecules, so the body needs more time for their breakdown and digestion, which means the sugar after them rises in the blood gradually.
Foods that contain complex carbohydrates are usually more nutritious.than those in which simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are, for example, in whole grain foods and vegetables. And simple - in corn syrup, soda and cookies.
How to eat carbohydrates with health benefits
Many people choose low-carb diets or completely discard carbohydrates. However, doing so without a special recommendation of the doctor is not worth it, since it can be harmful to health. As already mentioned, carbohydrates are a necessary macro element and a valuable source of energy.
A healthy diet suggests that more nutritious complex carbohydrates in the diet will be much more than simple, in which there is little or no nutritional value.
Replacing most simple carbohydrates with healthier alternatives. For example:
- Instead of sweet soda and fruit juices from concentrates, you can drink water or natural fruit juices.
- It is better to eat whole fruits than pies and cookies
- Wholemeal macaroni and quinoa is preferable to high-grade wheat flour macaroni
- Replace white bread with wholemeal bread and tortillas
- You can eat nuts instead of potato chips.
Many food manufacturers offer "low carb" or "light" versions of their products. However, keep in mind that some products can be highly processed and contain artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers and other unhealthy additives. Some also contain a lot of calories and few nutrients. This is because manufacturers often replace whole grains with other cheaper fillers.
A balanced diet includes natural, unprocessed complex carbohydrates. and is rich in nutrients that are found in:
- Whole grains
Many foods are rich in fiber. It is necessary for healthy digestion and reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. But for those who already have diabetes, it slows down the absorption of sugar, minimizing the risk of glucose jumps in the blood.
Replacing foods with saturated fats or sugars for complex carbohydrates containing fiber, you can consume fewer calories, which is also good for your health in diabetes.
Fruits, although they contain fructose related to simple carbohydrates, are also good, because they contain a lot of vitamins, minerals and fiber. However, in the presence of diabetes, they should be consumed in limited quantities. There are also a lot of vitamins and minerals in natural fruit juices, but there is very little fiber, so you shouldn’t lean on them - whole fruits are better.
Reduce the amount of simple carbohydrates, as they poorly satisfy hunger and are usually found in foods with very low nutritional value. On the contrary, increase the amount of complex carbohydrates, so you will fill up faster, avoid sudden surges in blood sugar and get more nutrients.