Carbohydrates are something that dieters know all about; basically we try to avoid them, but we want them…oh how we want them. We salivate over the very idea of the delicious forms of carbs. We need them too, just not in the huge excess that is available these days. Classed as monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides, these bundles of tasty delight are more complex forms of SUGAR. Yup, that’s right, sugar.
All carbohydrates turn to sugar it’s just that some take more time than others to do so. That’s the difference between simple and complex carbs. The simple ones are the ones that turn to glucose quickly and the complex ones take longer and require more energy from the body to make the transition. Diabetics know all about this difference; they learn to avoid the simple ones and go for the complex ones, to have less of a deleterious impact upon the blood sugar level.
So what’s with the fancy -saccharide name? It’s simple: mono-saccharides have one unit of sugar, di-saccharides have two units of sugar and poly-saccharides have three or more…hence the polysaccharides are the complex carbohydrates. The simple sugars are…well…sugar: cane, beet, honey, fructose, maltose, glucose, lactose, mannose, etc (If it ends in -ose it’s a sugar). The complex ones are found in grains and vegetables. The more complex the carb, the longer it takes to turn to glucose and the less impact it has on making blood sugar levels rise quickly.
As far as vegetables go, the starchier the vegetable, the more carbohydrate it has in it and the more glucose that turns into. Those who have been on the Atkins Diet can tell you that broccoli and asparagus are two of the lowest carb vegetables and that potatoes, peas, carrots and corn are to be avoided at all costs. Some vegetables and fruits have more oil than starch (like avocado and apricot) but all fruits have lots of sugar (fructose).
We do need sugar (glucose-a six carbon sugar) in the body; that’s what fuels the cells. We also need insulin (a fat/hormone) to get the sugar into the cell or we have problems. If you think of the hormone insulin as a guy helping his friend Sugar get a leg up to climb through a high window, you can see how not having enough insulin and having too much Sugar can be a problem. Now imagine that Sugar is wearing a leather motorcycle outfit covered in spikes…when he’s too big for Insulin to boost up, he goes rolling down the inclined street (which gets narrower and narrower the farther down he goes), until he is scraping the walls of the houses, leaving big scars as he goes. That’s what happens to the tiny capillaries if Sugar doesn’t get into the cells where he’s supposed to. Enough scraping equals scar tissue equals no more capillaries equals tissue death. ‘Nuff said?
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