Good Sugar and Bad Sugar

Carbohydrate (sometimes called "carbs") is just a long word for "sugar". Foods can contain simple sugar molecules or long chains of simple sugar molecules linked together. The carbohydrate family actually has 3 "members":
1. Simple sugars
2. Complex (long chain) carbohydrates (also called starch)
3. Dietary fiber
Simple sugars are stand-alone sugar molecules. They're found in:

- Milk
- Fruits
- Sugar and honey
- Fruit juices and soft drinks
- Pastries and cakes

Starch is found in:

- Plants
- Grains (wheat, millet, barley, rice, oats and rye)
- Potatoes
- Beans

Fibers are found in plants and whole grains. They're impossible to digest, but are actually good for you. Their benefits include:

- Prevention and treatment of constipation
- Decreased blood cholesterol levels
- Helps process food, so cravings are decreased

Carbohydrates, with each gram containing 4 calories, are the preferred energy source of brain and nerve cells, red blood cells, and muscles. They make up 55% to 60% of the typical American diet. We recommend you favor complex over simple carbohydrates: they're healthier and control appetite better, so you're less likely to overeat. Also, sugary snacks are simple molecules, so the energy is burned up quickly. The complex carbohydrates, although much less sweeter, break down over time to give you more energy in the long run.

Eating carbohydrates is not a bad thing: as we've mentioned before, it's more of the quantity and quality. Try to cut down on sweet sugary foods while foods with complex carbohydrates and fibers are much better for you.

Action Step 6
Find 2 foods made of simple sugars, 2 made of starch, and 2 fiber-rich foods. Sample each food and notice the sweetness of simple sugars in contrast to the other two.

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