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What to Know About Simple and Complex Carbohydrates


Updated April 11, 2014

What to Know About Simple and Complex Carbohydrates
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Simple and complex carbohydrates -- what's the difference? If you have type 2 diabetes, you know that carbohydrates matter. Although carbohydrates are necessary for a healthy diet, eating too many carbohydrates at a meal can make blood sugar levels soar -- and that's why knowing the answer to this question really matters. Striking a balance in your eating will help keep your blood sugars in an acceptable range.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are mainly simple sugars, and they raise blood sugar much faster and usually higher than complex carbs.

An example of a simple sugar is the sugar in your sugar bowl. Things like candy, syrups, and soda pop are simple carbs. Fruit and milk are also considered simple carbs, even though they contain vitamins, fiber, and important nutrients that your body needs.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbs are basically starches that contain fiber. Complex carbs are digested more slowly than simple carbs, so blood sugars don't rise as high or as fast.

Foods like brown rice, whole grains, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta and high fiber cereals are complex carbs. Some vegetables, including broccoli, corn and legumes (kidney beans, chick peas), are also complex carbs.

When planning your meals, focus on shifting your carb intake to more complex carbs and less simple carbs. This will help you control your blood sugar levels.


Dolson L. (2009, March 2). Understanding Carbohydrates - More Complex Than You Think. Retrieved from http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/lowcarb101/a/carbintro.htm

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