Carbohydrates are a very important macronutrient. It is our main source of energy. This is a preferred fuel for our body other than fat and protein. In adults, between 45-65% of calories intake should come from carbohydrates. Where should we get it from? We have so many options of carbs: from rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and many more.
There are many varieties of rice too. From white rice, wild rice, red rice, and many more. Though we also need to know that white sugar can also be a source of carbohydrates. But, do potatoes and sugar have the same impact on our bodies? Which kind of carbs should we pick that is best for our health?
Scientifically, there are 2 types of carbohydrates: Complex carbs and simple carbs. Commonly, people prefer simple carbs for its taste and the texture. Most people from Asia countries prefer white rice instead of brown, red, black or wild rice for their carbohydrate intake. It has been the culture to eat white rice in Asia. A study was done in Indonesia and it was published in 2020, trying to look at different perspectives of students in Yogyakarta about switching white rice to brown or black rice.
The Study shows their choices on which type of carbohydrate intake is influenced by economic status, price, knowledge of its health benefits, health condition, experience in the family, and more. (1) So there are many reasons why people aren’t eating complex carbs. However, hopefully, the health reasons would motivate us to choose complex carbs over simple carbs.
Why Complex Carbs?
Firstly, complex carbs are better for your blood sugar control. Complex carbs “take a longer time to digest, therefore complex carbs result in a gradual effect on the increase in blood sugar.” While simple carbs “causing a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin secretion from the pancreas.” (2) In 2003, a group of male was randomized to have breakfast with simple carbs and complex carbs separately to see the effect on the level of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, free fatty acids and satiety level in their body.
They were also crossed over to try both. It was found that those who consume simple carbs had higher levels of triglycerides and free fatty acid after 180 minutes after breakfast. Also higher glucose and insulin levels after 30 minutes of consumption. Not only that, after 90 minutes of intake, those who consumed simple carbs experienced less satiety than those who ate complex carbs. (3) In other words, complex carbs help you to feel full for a longer period of time.
What’s better about complex carbs? Complex carbs contain more fiber compared to simple carbs. This is why it helps control our blood sugar better and help us to feel full for a longer period. Since complex carbs go through less processing, they contain more vitamins and minerals too!
Because vitamin B and lots of minerals are contained in the bran and the germ of the whole grain. While simple carbs came from the endosperm of the starch, so it is not rich in vitamin B and minerals. (4) So, it benefits us more if we eat complex carbs.