Easy or Hard to Digest
The faster your body can digest a carbohydrate, the higher its dieting index value. There are two major types of digestible polysaccharides or complex carbohydrates: amylose and amylopectin. Both contain many glucose units, but the foods with more amylopectin raise the blood glucose levels much more readily than foods containing more amylose. The branches in amylopectin starch have many surface areas, which make it easier for digestive enzymes to break it down faster.
These easy-to-break-down starches include foods such as most breads, white potatoes, white flour, and snack foods such as pretzels, donuts, and cookies. Most of these foods are also processed or refined carbohydrates, but some natural unprocessed carbohydrates have higher amylopectin levels, including parsnips, russet potatoes, and rutabagas.
Starches that contain more amylose include some whole grains and legumes (lentils, dried peas, and beans) and some of the starchy vegetables such as yams and sweet potatoes. These foods are best for your dieting index weight-loss program.
Most dietary fiber is not digestible. In other words, you might consume the fiber, but there’s a good chance most of it will not be digested such that the nutrients enter your bloodstream. Instead, the fiber is excreted in your stool. There are two major types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Mostly it is the insoluble fiber that does not get digested, but both types of fiber slow the rate of carbohydrate breakdown into blood glucose. Because of this, it’s great for you to eat lots of dietary fiber. Ideally, you should consume 25 grams or more every day.
Don’t overdo the fiber. But you’d need to consume a virtually unpalatable amount of fiber supplements, such as psyllium husks, to eat too much fiber—such as 4 or 5 tablespoons a day. With too much fiber, you could actually block the absorption of important vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and more. Overeating fiber can, in essence, make you undernourished. (And undernourished doesn’t equate to being thinner.) More than 45 grams of fiber a day is generally too much for most of us.