Carbohydrates- Benefits, Functions, Types And Sources

What Are Carbohydrates?

There are three macronutrients called carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Now, carbohydrates are the sugars, starches, and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk products. Though often maligned in trendy diets, carbohydrates one of the basic food groups is important to a healthy diet.

They provide fuel for the central nervous system and energy for working muscles. The only problem with them? They also prevent protein from being used as an energy source and enable fat metabolism.

Functions Of Carbs

Carbohydrates provide a person with energy. However, people can still obtain energy from foods containing protein and fats, but carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source. So, if a person does not have a good supply of carbohydrates, their body will use protein and fats as an energy source.

However, as protein is vital for so many other essential functions, such as building and repairing tissues, the body prefers not to use it for energy. Carbohydrates break down into glucose in the body.

Glucose moves from the bloodstream into the body’s cells with the help of the hormone insulin. All of the cells in a person’s body use glucose to function. The brain uses 20–25% of a person’s glucose when they are at rest and is a reliant on a constant supply.

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs

These are found in foods you know are good for you (vegetables) and ones you know are not (doughnuts). This has led to the idea that some carbs are \”good\” and some are \”bad.\”

The commonly considered bad carbs include pastries, sodas, highly processed foods, white rice, white bread, and other white-flour foods. These are foods with simple carbs. Bad carbs rarely have any nutritional value.

And the commonly considered good carbs are complex carbs, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes. These are not only processed more slowly, but they also contain a bounty of other nutrients.

 

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Good Carbs Are:

  • Low or moderate in calories
  • High in nutrients
  • Devoid of refined sugars and refined grains
  • High in naturally occurring fiber
  • Low in sodium
  • Low in saturated fat
  • Very low in, or devoid of, cholesterol and trans fats

Bad Carbs Are:

  • High in calories
  • Full of refined sugars, like corn syrup, white sugar, honey, and fruit juices
  • High in refined grains like white flour
  • Low in many nutrients
  • Low in fiber
  • High in sodium
  • Sometimes high in saturated fat
  • Sometimes high in cholesterol and trans fats

Simple Vs. Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are classified as simple or complex. The difference between the two forms is the chemical structure and how quickly the sugar is absorbed and digested. Generally speaking, simple carbs are digested and absorbed more quickly and easily than complex carbs.

Simple carbohydrates contain just one or two sugars, such as fructose (found in fruits) and galactose (found in milk products). These single sugars are monosaccharides. Carbs with two sugars — such as sucrose (table sugar), lactose (from dairy), and maltose (in beer and some vegetables) — are disaccharides.

Simple carbs are also in candy, soda, and syrups. However, these foods are full of refined sugars and do not have vitamins, minerals, or fiber. They are \”empty calories\” and lead to weight gain.

Complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) have three or more sugars. They are often starchy foods and include beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, potatoes, corn, parsnips, whole-grain bread, and cereals.

While all carbohydrates function as relatively quick energy sources, simple carbs cause bursts of energy much more quickly than complex carbs. This is because of the quicker rate in terms of digestion and absorption.

Simple carbs lead to spikes in blood sugar levels and sugar highs, while complex carbs provide more sustained energy.

Replacing saturated fats with simple carbs, such as those in many processed foods, leads to an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It\’s best to focus on primarily complex carbs in your diet, including whole grains and vegetables.

Glycemic Index

Carbohydrates

Nutritionists have said that it\’s not the type of carbohydrate, but rather the carb\’s glycemic index, that\’s important. The glycemic index measures how quickly and how much a carbohydrate raises blood sugar.

High-glycemic foods like pastries raise blood sugar highly and rapidly; low-glycemic foods raise it gently and to a lesser degree. Some research has linked high-glycemic foods with diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and certain cancers.

The right kind of carbs can be incredibly good for you. Not only are they necessary for your health, but they carry a variety of added benefits.

Foods With High Carbs

Dairy Products
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
Fruits
  • Mango
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Pears
Dry Fruits
  • Raisins
  • Dates
Grains
  • Brown Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Oats
  • Kidney Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Peas
  • Lentils
Vegetables
  • Beets
  • Corn
  • Potatoes
Sweeteners
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Sugar Nectar

Foods With Low Carbs

Fruits
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
Vegetables
  • Brocolli
  • Red Bell Peppers
  • Green Beans
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Cauliflower
  • Tomatoes
  • Soybean
  • Celery
Seeds And Nuts
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Chia
  • Flax
Dairy
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
Oils
  • Olive Oil
Non-Veg Favourites
  • Chicken
  • Salmon
  • Meat

 

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Sources Of Good Carbs To Stay Healthy

Carbohydrates

By choosing your carbs wisely you should still be able to keep your blood sugar within healthy limits while nourishing your body with important vitamins and minerals.

Here are some of the best sources of good carbs:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Leafy greens
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Raspberries

Summary

Carbohydrates are essential for providing the body with energy and helping it function optimally. People may have varying requirements for carbohydrates according to their lifestyle, weight, and activity level.

Most people can ensure that they eat a healthy diet by including complex carbohydrates and limiting their intake of refined carbohydrates.

Being thoughtful about carbohydrate choices can help give a person a good blood glucose balance and limit the risk of associated health conditions.

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