Healthy vs Unhealthy Carbs - Differences and Examples

Carbohydrate foods are not only bread, pasta, and potatoes. A certain amount of healthy carbohydrates is also found in fruits, vegetables, and grains.

These foods contain fiber and nutrients and are considered healthy, while other types – ( refined carbohydrates and sugars) are dangerous for the metabolism, so they are considered unhealthy.

Read on to find out which foods contain healthy and unhealthy carbohydrates. What is the difference between them?

Healthy carbohydrates

The more complex the structure of a carbohydrate, the more time and effort the body takes to digest it. So the energy from healthy carbohydrate foods is gradually distributed.

The more fiber (plant fibers) in a food product, the lower its glycemic index and the more difficult it is for the body to digest. The presence of fiber and other healthy carbohydrates in the diet aids digestion and maintains normal cholesterol levels.

In addition, most foods with healthy carbohydrates are accompanied by vitamins and minerals. These are essential nutrients that practically cannot be covered without the contribution of these foods to the diet.

Healthy carbohydrate sources are:

  • vegetables (sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli)
  • fruits (bananas, apples, melon, watermelon)
  • cereals and pseudocereals (quinoa, buckwheat,
  • legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas)
  • wholemeal flours (wheat, oats, etc.)

Unhealthy carbohydrates

The simple carbohydrates: sucrose, fructose, and glucose, are rapidly absorbed. When consumed pure (for example, table sugar), blood insulin levels increase. These foods can cause insulin spikes and lead to diabetes.

In addition, the category of unhealthy carbohydrates includes foods that provide empty calories – such as refined flours.

As for products marked “sugar-free,” they may not always be considered healthy. In some cases, manufacturers use other sugary carbohydrates, such as maltodextrin, in place of sugar.

Despite the different names and the more complex chemical formula, this substance has a high glycemic index; in fact, the body reacts to it like ordinary sugar.

Unhealthy carbohydrate foods:

  • sugar in all variations (including honey)
  • sweet drinks (juices, fruit drinks, sodas)
  • bread and other white flour cakes
  • Corn flakes and sweet cereals for breakfast
  • preserves, jams, jams with sugar
  • pastries and most desserts
  • cookies, cakes
  • White rice

How many carbohydrates to eat per day?

Recommendations from official sources insist that carbohydrates should account for more than 50% of total calorie intake. (1) Although, they also emphasize what types of carbohydrate foods are consumed.

For example, a serving of brown rice contains the same amount of carbohydrates as a glass of sugary soda. However, the first option is healthy, and the second is not.

Weight of 50 KgWeighing 60 kgWeighing 70 kgWeighing 80 kg
To lose weight160 g165 g175 g185 g
To maintain215 g230 g250 g260 g
To increase275 g290 g300 g320 g
To lose weight120 g150 g170 g150 g
To maintain150 g190 g200 g220 g
To increase200 g245 g260 g240 g


Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy in the human diet. They are found in almost all foods, except for meat and oils.

Healthy carbohydrates are found in fruits, whole grains, and vegetables – they have a low glycemic index and beneficial nutrients for your health.

Proper nutrition means that half of the calories are carbohydrate sources, where the emphasis is on the maximum rejection of unhealthy carbohydrates. Mainly products with sugar and refined flours.

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