7 Foods with Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are sugars that are found in many refined and processed foods, in foods made with white flour, and in foods high in various types of sugars. While complex carbohydrates are necessary for good health, simple carbohydrates can cause mood swings, rapid changes in blood-sugar levels, weight gain, compulsive eating and sugar cravings. Here are some common foods that contain high levels of simple carbohydrates.

1) Soft Drinks

Soft drinks are a common source of simple carbohydrates. Many non-diet soft drinks are loaded with sugar, a simple carbohydrate. To avoid the extra sugar content, try drinking water or milk with meals instead of soft drinks. 

2) Fruit Juices

Even fruit juices, such as apple and grape, contain high levels of simple carbohydrates. Eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice — it’s less refined, and therefore healthier. It also contains more fiber, which helps with digestion and keeps you feeling full longer. It will also make following a healthy diet easier.

3) Table and Other Syrups

Corn syrup and table syrup contain high levels of simple carbohydrates. Like many foods that are high in simple sugars and other simple carbohydrates, table and other syrups do not provide much nutritional value.

4) Products Made with White Flour

Simple carbohydrates are commonly found in refined foods, like white flour, so any product made with white flour will be high in simple carbohydrates. White flour products that are high in simple carbohydrates include:

  • White bread
  • White pasta
  • Cakes, pastries and many baked goods
  • Packaged cereals

Buy bread, pasta and other baked goods made with whole grains in order to minimize simple carbohydrates in your diet. Even products made with wheat flour contain high levels of simple carbohydrates. While you’re likely to find some amount of simple carbs in any bread product, eating whole grain breads can help ensure that you get vital nutrients and fiber as well as simple carbs.

5) Sweets

Candy, chocolate and other sweets are high in simple sugars and other simple carbohydrates. Minimize sweets in your diets and read the labels on products you buy. Products that list any of the following at the beginning of the list should be avoided:

  • Sucrose
  • Fructose
  • Sugar
  • Maltose
  • Corn syrup
  • White flour
  • Wheat flour

Avoid refined foods and fruit juices as much as possible. Unrefined foods are lower in simple carbohydrates, higher in healthy complex carbohydrates, and may contain many other healthful nutrients as well.

6) Many Natural Sweeteners

You might think that by avoiding refined white sugar, you’re also avoiding simple carbohydrates. The truth is that many natural, unrefined sweeteners contain high levels of simple carbs. Honey, molasses, maple syrup and brown sugar all contain high levels of simple carbs. Beet sugar and cane sugar also contain high levels of simple carbohydrates.

7) Many Fruits and Vegetables

Many fruits and vegetables contain glucose, a naturally occurring simple carbohydrate. That doesn’t mean you should avoid fruits and vegetables. The naturally occurring simple carbohydrates present in fruits and vegetables can be beneficial to your health — it’s the processed, refined sugars that you really want to avoid. Fruits and vegetables are also high in a number of other nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and fiber. Some fruits, vegetables and legumes may also contain fats and protein.


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