Carbohydrates are organic compounds composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Each gram of carbohydrate provides 4 kcal of energy.
- Important for the regulation of protein and fat metabolism.
- Forms bulk in the diet and provides adequate satiety value.
- Glucose is the sole form of energy for the brain and nervous tissues.
Carbohydrates can be classified as :
- Simple sugars – They are easily digested and are an instant source of energy.
- Complex carbohydrates
o Starches – They are complex carbohydrates because they have to be broken down into simple sugars to be utilized as an energy source. Therefore, this process results in slow release of energy.
o Fiber – This is the indigestible component of foods mainly the skin of fruits, vegetables and cereal grains. Fiber can be classified as:
o Soluble fiber
o Insoluble fiber
|Simple sugars||Complex carbohydrates|
|Honey||Whole grains (wheat, rice, barley, maize)||Oat bran||Whole wheat flour|
|Fruits||Sweet potato||Guar gum||Beans|
|Cane sugar||Bread||Fruits||Leafy vegetables|
|Milk and milk products|
Carbohydrates are the best source of energy for the body. In an average diet, carbohydrates should furnish atleast 60% of the total calories required by any individual.
Complex carbohydrates like wheat, brown bread, oats, barley, rice, potatoes etc. should account for majority of the total carbohydrate intake.
Sugar, honey, chocolates and ice creams are calorie rich simple carbohydrate sources and therefore their intake needs to be controlled.
Fibers demand a prominent presence in our diet due to the following advantages :
- Soluble fibers help in controlling blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
- Insoluble fibers provide bulk to the food and promotes the feeling of satiety.
- Prevents constipation.