Simple Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates (also called saccharides) are divided into these four chemical groups:


In general, monosaccharides and disaccharides, which are smaller (a lower molecular weight), are commonly referred to as “simple” carbohydrates. Because of their small size, they break down quickly in the body and can raise blood sugar levels rapidly.

Examples of simple carbohydrates

White table sugar
Maple syrup
Dairy products

Oligosaccharides and polysaccharides are more complex and consist of many monosaccharides linked together and are referred to as “complex” carbohydrates. Polysaccharides are the largest of the carbohydrates. Because they are large molecules, they take time to break down, which means that blood sugar levels don’t rise as quickly. The chance that we use this energy, versus it being stored as fat, increases. Complex carbohydrates also tend to have more nutrient value in the form of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, among others. They are also a good source of antioxidants, which protect the body from oxidant stress, diseases, and cancers, and boost immunity.