What are refined carbohydrates?

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
Refined carbohydrates are carbohydrates that have been processed. Processing removes some of the nutrients and other components that build health. White flour is an example of a refined carbohydrate. The bran and germ are removed. This removes the fiber, B vitamins, and minerals from the flour making it less nutritious than unrefined carbohydrates.
Elizabeth Casparro, MPH,RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Refined carbohydrates are usually in reference to grains when they are striped of the bran and germ. A grain kernel has 4 main parts: husk (other layer), bran (the fiber), the germ (fat and some vitamins) and endosperm (the starch). So, refined grains have just the endosperm and are missing key vitamins, fiber and healthy fat. Some examples of refined grains are white bread, white rice, and regular pasta. Unrefined, containing all parts of the kernel, grain examples are whole wheat bread, brown rice and whole wheat or brown rice pasta.

Jack D. Potter
Refined foods are highly processed foods that have been stripped of their original nutrient content and fiber. White flour, white pasta, and white sugar are just some examples. The more a food is refined, the more you should stay away from it. 

Why Does Refined Foods Affect Hunger? Let’s look at a loaf of white bread. First, the wheat is stripped of bran and fiber. Then it's ground into the finest white flour. Baking puffs it up into light, airy slices of bread. That is why your stomach makes such quick work of it. A slice of white bread hits your bloodstream with the same intensity as eating a tablespoon of sugar right from the bowl! Genuine 100% whole-wheat or whole-grain bread, on the other hand,(the coarse, chewy kind with a thick crust and visible pieces of grain) puts your stomach to work. It too is made of wheat, but the grains haven't been processed to death. While it contains starches, which are just chains of sugars, they are bound up with the fiber, so digestion takes longer. As a result, the sugars are released gradually into the bloodstream. If there's no sudden surge in blood sugar, your pancreas won't produce as much insulin, and you won't get the exaggerated hunger and cravings for more sugary and starchy carbohydrates.

Refined carbohydrates refer to carbohydrates that are highly processed and have been stripped of much of their nutritional value. Refined sugars provide calories, but lack vitamins, minerals and fiber. Refined grains have had some of the fiber and other important nutrients removed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.