Importance of complex carbohydrates

Slow digesting carbohydrates or slow burning carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates properties

What are complex carbohydrates?

From a scientific point of view, the complex carbohydrates are:

  • Disaccharides: They are carbohydrates composed of two sugar molecules joined together, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides
  • Oligosaccharides: They are carbohydrates that contain between 3 and 10 monosaccharides.
  • Polysaccharides: They are carbohydrates formed by the union of many monosaccharides or disaccharides.

Complex carbohydrades differ from simple carbohydrates or monosaccharides (carbohydrates with one sugar molecule)

From a dietary point of view, many specialists have included disaccharides within the group of simple carbohydrates.

Main complex carbohydrates

Among the main complex carbohydrates belonging to the oligosaccharides, we have:

  • raffinose
  • stachyose
  • acarbose
  • oligofructose
  • galactooligosaccharides.

Among the main complex carbohydrates belonging to the polysaccharides, we have:

  • starch
  • glycogen
  • cellulose
  • hemicellulose
  • pectin
  • mucilages
  • chitin
  • xylan
  • inulin.

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    Some foods with complex carbohydrates

Importance of complex carbohydrates

Among carbohydrates (= glucides or carbohydrates) it is better to choose the complexes to the simple ones. That is to say, those that are absorbed more slowly. Within this group there are the whole vegetal foods, such as whole grain cereals (rice, wheat, oats, maize, etc) and their derivatives (whole grain bread, oatmeal, cornmeal, etc); the vegetables (chard, lettuce, spinach, watercress, etc) and the legumes (lentils, soybean, string beans, the chick-peas, etc)

Within simple carbohydrates we would have foods such as sugar,, bakery products, products made with refined flour, sweets, ice cream, etc.

Fruits (apples, pears, peaches, apricots, etc) would be the exception within this group because, although they contain many simple carbohydrates, such as fructose, they are equally recommendable since they also contain simple carbohydrates and other components like vitamins, minerals or fiber.

It is best to eat whole fruit juice, fruit, since the latter removes the pulp has a higher proportion of complex carbohydrates and fiber than the juice is squeezed once.

Why not to chose simple carbohydrates

Carbohydrates ingested through food must be converted to glucose so that they can be used by the body.

When you eat simple carbohydrates such as glucose or fructose, they are quickly absorbed by the body which causes a very rapid increase of sugar content in the blood. The pancreas must react quickly to secrete insulin that allow the screening of the blood sugar to cells.

Because this process is done very quickly, because there is a double effect. On the one hand, the food energy is consumed too fast so soon become hungry and need to eat more food to satisfy our appetites. This excess of food is responsible for the excess calories which are stored as fat, giving way to being overweight or obesity.

On the other hand, the presence of moments at which a great sugar level is accumulated in the blood (hyperglycemia) or the existence of periods in which the levels are too low (hypoglycemia) can be responsible for the development of metabolic diseases as diabetes or can even generate cardiac diseases.

Why to chose complex carbohydrates or slow digesting carbohydrates

Foods rich if slow digesting carbohydrates

Foods rich if slow digesting carbohydrates

Faced with the rapid metabolism of simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates, as its name suggests, do a more complex work.

They are larger and more complex molecules that before being absorbed, they must be broken down in simple carbohydrates to be assimilated. This entails that, once we eat foods containing this type of carbohydrate, the glucose molecules are released slowly so that sugar levels in the blood are kept lower and more stable for much longer than when we eat simple carbohydrates.

As a result, our body is satiated and is not forcer to eat more frequently. By not eating as many calories, we are less likely to accumulate too much fat in the body.

Moreover, by maintaining levels of blood sugar more stable, we can avoid periods of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, and prevent diseases such as diabetes and other conditions caused by poor metabolism of carbohydrates.

More information on like the metabolism.

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

22 April, 2022

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