The ill effects of high cholesterol is not alien knowledge to us. We all know how it impacts our health and wellbeing. Before we delve into the role complex carbs play with regards to high cholesterol, let’s understand what cholesterol is. It is a waxy substance which our body needs to build cells and make vitamins and other hormones. But, too much cholesterol is a problem. There is good cholesterol and there is bad cholesterol. Good cholesterol is HDL, which is heart friendly fat and bad cholesterol is LDL, Triglycerides which should be within limit. If it increases, it can cause cardiac issues.
Cholesterol comes from two sources in our body:
- From the food we eat like meat, poultry, dairy products, etc.
- Our liver makes and releases it in our body
The Correlation of Complex Carbs and Cholesterol
Carbohydrates is a group of chemical substances made up of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. They include starches, sugars, glycogen, dextrins and celluloses. There are 2 types of Carbohydrates: Simple carbs and Complex Carbs. Both affect our cholesterol levels differently.
- Simple Carbs: are refined, processed and have less fiber in it. They have a high glycemic index and affect blood sugar. Increased blood sugar will raise insulin levels which may increase cholesterol. Simple carbs are found in sugar, soda, white rice, white bread, pasta, pizza, noodles,cakes, cookies, snacks such as chips, nachos, etc.
- Complex Carbs: are high in fiber, Vitamins, and Minerals. The body will take time to break down and release energy/glucose. As complex carbs are high in fiber, it helps reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides, helps in healthy heart function, and improves bowel movements. Oatmeal, oat bran, kidney beans, and brussels sprouts are good carbs; they have more soluble fiber, which helps to reduce the amount of cholesterol that gets absorbed into the bloodstream. We should include at least 5 to 10 gms of soluble fiber per day to see beneficial effects. Good sources of complex carbs include whole grains, beans, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
You should include complex carbs in their natural form. For example:
- Have whole fruit instead of fruit juice, soft drinks.
- Go with whole grain instead of processed flours or refined flours.
- Limit foods that are high in processed, refined food, simple sugar, which provides calories but has fewer nutrients in it.
- Have more veggies and fruits which have more fiber and packed vitamins and minerals.
- Focus on whole grains, cereals, legumes, pulses, sprouts, beans, lentils, and dried peas, etc.
Complex carbs help us reduce bad cholesterol. Always choose it over simple carbs. We hope this article helps you make healthy food choices. Do leave your thoughts in the comments below. For more on nutrition, check out Healthy Reads or for further guidance, speak to our certified experts by subscribing to GOQii’s Personalised Health Coaching here.
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