Carbohydrates (or Carbs) are molecules consisting of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen. Also known as saccharides, they are the main source of sugars in the diet.
Carbohydrates are generally classified as Complex or Simple. Complex carbohydrates are carbs that are found in whole foods, together with fibre, vitamins and minerals. These carbs are generally polysaccharides or oligosaccharides.
Simple carbohydrates are also known as sugars. These are monosaccharides and disaccharides. These sugars are absorbed much faster than the sugars in complex carbs and therefore have a greater effect on blood glucose and insulin levels in the body.
From a health perspective complex carbs are considered superior to simple sugars as they have less of an effect on blood sugar and come in packages (whole foods) that also contain other health promoting compounds such as fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Simple sugars can raise blood sugar too fast resulting in unbalanced hormones. They also do not contain antioxidants so can promote greater levels of inflammation when consumed in excess.