Realistically speaking, carbohydrates, along with fats and proteins, are one of the macronutrients your body needs on a daily basis. They’re known for being the body’s primary source of energy as they help energize your heart muscles, brain, kidneys, and your central nervous system. However, not all carbohydrates are created equally–they can be complex or refined.

That being said, it’s clear that there’s a distinction between refined and complex carbs. To know which one is a better food choice for your health, keep reading this article to learn more about the main differences between these two types of carbohydrates.

Refined And Complex Carbs: What Are They?

What are refined carbs? Primarily, refined carbohydrates, which are also known as simple or processed carbs, are stripped of almost all fiber, minerals, and vitamins. That’s why when you eat refined carbs, such as white bread, white flour, pastries, sweets, and many more, you may feel a rush of energy but it doesn’t contain any nutritional value.

On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are those that provide fiber, minerals, and vitamins, which are essential to your health. When you consume complex carbs, such as whole grains, vegetables, beans, and peas, they may provide you with a good supply of energy and nutritional value.

Refined vs. Complex Carbs: What Are Their Main Distinctions?

Now that you’re already aware of what refined and complex carbs are, it’s now time to get familiar with the several major differences between these carbohydrates and how they can affect your health. These can include:

carbs 1 - Main Differences Between Refined And Complex Carbs

Refined Carbs Are More Difficult To Digest Than Complex Carbs

Refined carbs are known for being difficult to digest. In addition to being difficult to digest, refined carbohydrates also have zero nutritional value and tend to stay inside the body as stored energy. This is the reason why eating excessive refined carbs leads to weight gain.

Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are digested more slowly. When you eat them, the body breaks them down into their simple forms, which the brain interprets as having healthy properties. The brain believes these types of carbohydrates are good because they’re easily digested. As they pass through the digestive system, the body uses the energy by keeping you more active, fitter, and healthier when you do your daily activities. The body also needs these carbohydrates because they contain the nutrients, such as fibers, minerals, and vitamins, the body needs to function properly.

Refined Carbs Have Higher Levels Of Sugar Than Complex Carbs

Refined carbohydrates tend to have high sugar levels, which can lead to increased blood sugar levels. This can cause dehydration, especially if you don’t drink enough water to keep your body hydrated. A diet that consists mainly of sugar-rich food and drinks can lead to constipation or dehydration, so it’s important to avoid these foods. As an alternative, choose foods that are high in complex carbohydrates and fibers.

On the other hand, foods that contain complex carbohydrates, including most fruits and vegetables, are thought to have a lower simple sugar content than refined carbohydrates. However, it’s important to note that not all simple sugar is created equally. There are naturally-occurring sugars that come with vitamins, minerals, and other essential fibers that your body needs.

How Refined and Complex Carbs May Affect Your Health

If you want to take care of your family’s teeth, you need to stay away from refined carbs. Refined carbohydrates are related to cavities and tooth decay because when the starches from white flour remain in the mouth too long, they become easily broken down to simple sugars. These simple sugars then turn into simple acids when they feed the bacteria in the stomach and, eventually, they turn into tartar, which clings to teeth and the gums.

Refined carbohydrate intake can also lead to bad breath because the simple sugars in the diet make it hard to remove food particles from the stomach and intestines. Food particles that don’t pass through the digestive tract can stick in the colon walls, making it harder for the body to expel the waste material.

Moreover, excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates may increase the risk of developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Since the majority of these food sources contain high levels of sugars, there’s a chance you may be diagnosed with diabetes in the long run. Also, take note that people with type 2 diabetes have a high risk of having heart disease.

On the other hand, some people believe that eating whole grains and other healthy complex carbohydrates will prevent tooth decay and other complicated medical problems. This is because food sources that contain complex carbs also contain other essential vitamins and minerals that help your body become healthy. These food sources are rich in fiber, especially whole-grain bread, keeping your blood sugar levels from going out of whack. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of antioxidants, as well. Antioxidants are essential nutrients that your body needs to properly perform its tasks, fight off diseases, and build up new and healthy cells and tissue.

Bottom Line

As mentioned, carbohydrates can be an essential source of energy for your body. However, you should understand by now that not all carbohydrates are created and function equally. For example, complex carbs offer a more lasting energy source than refined carbs since the latter takes more time to digest.

But it’s also important to remember that not all complex carbs can be a healthier choice. This is especially true if you have certain health conditions that need to be considered from the get-go.  Because of this, you should make a real effort to learn how these macronutrients are classified and how they work inside your body.

While the information mentioned above can help you understand the differences between refined and complex carbs, choosing the better one may take some time and effort. With proper research, you’ll be able to keep an eye on the nutrition labels of the food you eat, which is crucial in making healthier choices to energize your body and safeguard it from serious health complications.