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What is a complex carb?

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Quick Answer

A complex carb is a carbohydrate made by adding sugar molecules together in a chain, according to MedlinePlus. Complex carbs should make up most of the carbohydrates an individual consumes. They provide vitamins, minerals and fiber in the diet.

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Full Answer

Starches and fiber are two types of complex carbohydrates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To use the sugar molecules in these starches, the body must first break them down. Vegetables, including potatoes, corn and dry beans, provide starches in the diet.

Fruits, vegetables and wholegrain foods provide fiber, which is the indigestible part of plant foods, explains the American Diabetes Association. Fiber only comes from plant sources, so dairy products, eggs and meat, all from animal sources, provide no fiber. The CDC recommends 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories an individual consumes; however, most Americans do not consume enough fiber. Fiber should come from the diet instead of supplements.

Some people refer to complex carbohydrates as good carbs and refined carbohydrates as bad carbs, according to the CDC. Examples of refined carbohydrates are table sugar and white flour. Foods such as white bread, cakes and cookies often contain large amounts of refined carbohydrates that provide very little dietary fiber.

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