Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for human body. Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy used to support bodily functions and physical activity. However, the quality of carbohydrates is important, some types of carbohydrates are better than others.
Sugars, starches and fiber are three main types of carbohydrates. One gram of carbohydrates equals to 4 calories. The Dietary Guidelines for American recommends that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of total daily calories. So, if you get 2000 calories a day, between 900 and 1300 calories should be from carbohydrates.
Functions of carbohydrates
· Provides energy and regulate blood glucose.
· Prevents protein form being used as an energy source.
· Carbohydrates are necessary for metabolizing fats.
· Make foods more flavourful.
· Protects against diseases.
· Fiber is the part of food that is not broken down by the body. Fiber helps us to feel full and maintain healthy weight. Furthermore, it adds bulk to stools and and lower cholesterol levels.
Sources of carbohydrates
There are two main types of sugar
· Naturally occuring sugars such as in milk or fruits.
· Added sugars such as those added during processing ( fruits canned in heavy syrup or sugar added to make a cookie, candy, carbonated beverages)
Foods rich in starch are also rich in fiber. Foods high in strach include:
· Peas, black eyed peas and spilt peas, corn, dried beans, such as kidney beans, black beans, lentils, and potatoes.
· Whole grains such as oats, barley, wheat and rice.
· Foods such as pastries, white breas, crakers and white rice also contain starch. However,they lack vitamin B and other important nutrients.
Fiber comes from plants. Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. Adults need to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day for good health. It contributes to digestive health.
Good sources of dietary fiber include:
· Whole grains, such as whole wheat and brown rice as well as whole grains, breads and cereals.
· Beans and legumes, such as black beans, kidney beans and garbanzo beans.
· Vegetables , such as broccoli, sprout, corn, potato with skin.
· Fruits, such as raspberries, pears, apples.
· Nuts and seeds.
Eating too many carbohydrates in the form of processed, strarchy or sugary foods can cause an increase in total calories leading to weight gain. Severely restricting carbohydrates can cause ketosis ( when body uses fats for energy because there are not enoug carbohydrates to use for energy)
Choosing carbohydrates wisely
· Emphasize fiber rich fruits and vegetables.
· Choose whole grains.
· Stick to low dairy products.
· Eat more legumes.
· Limit added sugars.