Carbohydrates are essential to good nutrition and are considered a primary source for energy. The key to eating healthy is knowing the difference between "good" and "bad" carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed, broken down and burned off faster by your body than complex carbohydrates, making them an ineffective source for long-term energy. Try to limit the simple-carbohydrate foods you eat.
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Foods that contain simple carbohydrates, or carbohydrates that burn off quickly, include milk products, which contain important vitamins and minerals. Milk, for instance, contains calcium, which is essential for growth and bone development. Opting for skim or low-fat milk cuts down on the amount of calories and fat, which can help keep you from gaining weight. Other milk products that contain the simple carbohydrate lactose include cheeses and yogurts.
Many fruits contain the carbohydrate fructose in their chemical structure, which makes them simple carbohydrates. Like dairy products, fruits provide nutritional value that goes beyond refined sugar carbohydrates. If you are a diabetic with hyperglycemia, you should be cautious of eating too many fruits that are rich fructose, as they can lead to a spike in your blood glucose levels. Strawberries, raspberries, plums, pears, grapefruit, banana, cherries and apples all contain fast-burning carbohydrates.
Plain table sugar is considered a simple carbohydrate because it contains sucrose. This type of sugar is absorbed immediately upon consumption and provides a near instant energy boost. Sucrose is common in sports drinks, cereals and jellies. These types of carbohydrate foods should be consumed selectively. Another type of sugar typically found in foods such as syrup, molasses and sweeteners is dextrose. This refined sugar provides no nutritional value and can cause weight gain if consumed often and in excess amounts.
Sweets are arguably the worst type of simple carbohydrate food. Candy bars, cakes, chocolate, cookies and hard candy all contain processed sugars that offer no nutritional value and can promote weight gain if consumed on a regular basis. Other processed foods that contain high amounts of sugar include white bread, biscuits and other white flour products, as well as soda and fruit drinks.