What is the difference between simple vs complex sugars? We know that honey is mainly composed of simple sugars, but what does this actually mean?
The main difference between simple sugars and complex sugars is their rate of absorption by the body. All carbohydrates have to be converted into simple sugars before being absorbed by the body. Simple sugars such as glucose, fructose, galactose, lactose, and maltose, can be absorbed and digested quickly by the body to be utilized as energy. Fructose is actually one the sweetest sugars, so you will only need to make a small amount to taste the sweetness.
When comparing simple sugars vs complex sugars (or complex carbohydrates), we also have to look at their sources. Simple sugars are commonly found in fruits and honey, whereas complex sugars are usually contained in food such as wheat, barley, bran, and oats.
Glucose and fructose, two simple sugars that are contained in honey, are among the most important types that provide the human body with nutrients.
It is important to note, however, that not all sources of simple sugars serve as nutrients to our body. Simple sugars that are found in sugary sweeteners, cookies, candy and many other processed food are just sweet stuff with calories that provide no nutritional value for the human body. They are often referred to as “empty calorie” food in nutrition terms.
Take honey and a soft drink, for example. They both contain simple sugars, but honey obviously provides more nutrition that is good for our health compared to the soft drink.
Complex sugars have something that simple sugars do not have, which is fiber.
Because of this, the common understanding of many people when it comes to comparing simple sugars vs complex sugars is that complex sugars are “good sugars” or “good carbs”. In addition to that, the fact that it raises the blood sugar slower than the simple refined sugars gives the impression that simple sugars are always the “unhealthier choice”.
However, research has shown that this is not necessarily the case. Some sources of complex sugars are in fact high-glycemic food that increases insulin levels and fat storage.
The glycemic index is a system that measures how a particular type of food has an effect on blood sugar levels. Food that has a high glycemic index means that the blood sugar response is high when the food is taken.
The best choice that you can make is choosing a low-glycemic and high-fiber food in your diet. Oatmeal, green peas, whole-wheat bread and pearl barley are some examples. There are food charts with information on glycemic measurements and fiber content that you can refer to if you are not sure which food is low-glycemic and high in fiber.