Carbohydrates are often portrayed negatively in the media and in popular diets, but the truth is that not all carbohydrates are created equal. The right carbohydrates in our diet give us usable energy, ease our digestion, and help us maintain a healthy weight.

The recommended daily amount of carbohydrates is 45% to 65% of total calories.
Each gram of carbohydrate contains four calories, the same as protein.
During menopause, it is recommended to eat no more than 30g of carbohydrates per main meal or about 100g per day to prevent weight gain.
Most carbohydrates in a nutritious diet come from whole foods while intake of refined grains and added sugars should be limited.

There are two main categories of carbohydrates: simple and complex. These two terms refer to the chemical structure of the molecules that make up the food.

1) Simple Carbohydrates:
Simple carbohydrates are small compounds that break down quickly and provide a quick burst of energy when consumed.

Simple carbohydrate sources include:

  • Glucose
  • Sugar (sucrose)
  • Dairy (lactose)
  • Fruit and honey (fructose)
  • Malt sugar (maltose)

As a source of simple carbohydrates, fruit naturally contains sugar, but it is also a good source of fiber (unlike most processed foods with added sweeteners).

Due to this, fruit does not cause such a sharp increase in blood glucose levels. In addition, fruit offers much more than energy, it is also a source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

2) Complex carbohydrates

Unlike simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates are larger compounds that take longer to break down, slowing down digestion and absorption and preventing extreme swings in our blood glucose levels. Complex carbohydrates include starches and fiber.

Complex carbohydrate sources include:

  • Whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, whole wheat, whole grain couscous, barley, etc.)
  • Beans/legumes
  • Vegetables, including starchy vegetables

Since these foods are good sources of fiber, they also help control weight and support cardiovascular health.

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