Role of carbohydrates:
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body. They are the sugars, starches, and dietary fiber that occur in plant foods and dairy products.
Carbohydrates are mainly found in plant foods. They also occur in dairy products in the form of a milk sugar called lactose. Foods high in carbohydrates include bread, pasta, beans, potatoes, rice, and cereals.
Carbohydrates play several roles in living organisms, including providing energy.
Byproducts of carbohydrates are involved in the immune system, the development of disease, blood clotting, and reproduction.
We also look at the relationship between carbohydrates and diabetes.
Role of carbohydrates:
Carbohydrates, also known as saccharides or carbs, provide energy for the body. Each gram of carbohydrates provides 4 calories.
The body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose, which is the primary energy source for the brain and muscles.
Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients, which are nutrients that the body needs in larger amounts.
The other macronutrients are protein and fats. Proteins provide 4 calories per gram, and fats provide 9 calories per gram.
It’s generally recommended that people consume between 45-65% of their total calories in the form of carbohydrates per day. However, carbohydrate needs depend on many factors, including body size, activity levels, and blood sugar control.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that people get 275 g of carbohydrate each day in a 2,000-calorie diet. This includes dietary fiber, total sugars, and added sugars, which are listed on food labels.
Carbohydrates in foods occur in various forms, including the following:
Dietary fiber, a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot easily digest. It occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains.
Total sugars, which include sugars that occur naturally in foods, such as dairy products, as well as added sugars, which are common in baked goods, sweets, and desserts. The body very easily digests and absorbs sugars.
Sugar alcohols, a type of carbohydrate that the body does not fully absorb. They have a sweet taste and fewer calories than sugar. Sugar alcohols are added to foods as reduced-calorie sweeteners, such as in chewing gum, baked goods, and sweets.
Dietary fiber helps promote regular bowel movements, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol, and may help reduce a person’s calorie intake. The FDA recommend that people get 28 grams (g) of dietary fiber per day in a 2,000-calorie diet.
Healthful vs. unhealthful carbohydrates
When a person eats more carbohydrates than they need, they can store the excess glucose as fat. If someone is very active or doing a lot of exercise, they may use up these carbohydrates relatively quickly.
However, people who do not use up these carbohydrates may find that they put on weight.
Complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, whole grain bread, and vegetables, release energy more slowly and keep a person fuller for longer.
Choosing complex carbohydrates and starchy vegetables can be a more healthful way for a person to include this vital macronutrient in their diet.
More healthful starchy vegetables include:
• sweet potato