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Features April 3, 2018

Simple Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are classified as either simple or complex - a distinction that confuses many people.

Simple carbohydrates are made up of one(single) or two (double) sugar molecules. When most people think of simple carbohydrates, they think of sucrose (a double sugar), the stuff you sprinkle on cereal or spoon into your coffee. But that’s only the most familiar simple carbohydrate.

simple carbohydrates

iStock / Getty Images Plus/ Mukhina1

Other simple carbohydrates include glucose (a single sugar found in most fruits), fructose (a single sugar also found in fruits), galactose (a single sugar found in dairy products), lactose (a double sugar found in dairy products), and maltose (found in certain vegetables and in beer).

The nutritional value of simple carbohydrates depends on the foods in which they are found—they are not necessarily bad for you or to be avoided just because they’re “simple.” The simple sugars, such as those found in candy, non-diet sodas, syrups and table sugar, provide calories but few other nutrients.

In contrast, intake of nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and other dairy products, provides not only calories from sugar, but also essential vitamins and minerals.

To learn more about ways to improve your brain health, purchase your copy of Brain Power and Nutrition from The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

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