A Nutritionist Point of View on Carbohydrates

Contributor: Blog Contributed By Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC at Addiction Hope

Carbohydrates have become the culprit of nutrition foods, with many misconceptions commonly believed about this food group. Because of the rampant misinformation that has quickly spread about carbohydrates, many individuals have an uncertainty about how to approach this nutrient.

Returning to a basic understanding about carbohydrates can help clear many of the misunderstandings about these foods and develop a healthier approach to eating in general.

A Primary Source of Energy

Carbohydrates are the key and primary sources of energy for the human body. These nutrients are broken down into glucose through the digestive system, which is used by the body to fuel organs, tissues, and cells.

Carbohydrate foods can be divided into two major groups: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are foods that are rapidly digested by the body, as they are made of just one or two sugar molecules.

These types of foods offer the body a quick source of energy and can be found in the following types of foods:

  • Table sugars
  • Honey
  • Candies
  • Fruit drinks
  • Corn syrup
  • Molasses

Complex Carbohydrates

greens-266560_640Complex carbohydrates are foods that are commonly found in whole plant foods and are often more nutrient dense. These types of foods are made up of multiple sugar molecules and are digested more slowly in the body.

Types of complex carbohydrate foods include:

  • Whole grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Green vegetables
  • Starchy vegetables, such as squashes, corn, and potatoes

Part of a Nutritious Diet

While many fad diets might promote “low” carbohydrates, these foods are essential for our bodies to function properly. If the body is without adequate carbohydrate sources, it will turn to alternative forms of fuel, such as protein in the body.

This can become dangerous, as the body will begin to break down important muscle, tissue, and organs to create energy for the body. To prevent this, it is crucial to eat sufficient amount of carbohydrate foods. Complex carbohydrates may offer great nutrient sources compared to simple carbohydrates, and when deciding on what type of carbohydrate foods to eat, it may help to keep this in mind.

Making Good Food Choices

vegetables-573958_640Choosing whole, unprocessed foods as your carbohydrate sources will allow for maximum nutrition intake. For example, having a whole piece of fruit instead of drinking fruit juice can give your body added fiber, vitamins and minerals. Simple changes like this can give your body the optimal nutrition needed to stay healthy.

If you are in recovery from substance abuse and have additional questions about what a healthy diet looks like for you, be sure to meet with your Registered Dietitian for more information.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What are common myths that you have heard about carbohydrates? How can you better incorporate these foods in your daily life?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 13th, 2015
Published on AddictionHope.com