What Are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates - good or bad? It's all a bit confusing. Well, some are good and some are bad and this video explains in an easy to understand way.Β 

Here at The Diabetes Kitchen we follow strict nutritional criteria for our dietitian designed meals. Each has less than 40gm carbohydrates and no added sugars.

Carbohydrates are one of the three main macronutrients found in food, along with proteins and fats. They are a primary source of energy for the body and play a crucial role in maintaining various bodily functions. Carbohydrates are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, and they come in various forms, including sugars, starches, and dietary fiber.

Carbohydrates can be categorized into three main types:

  1. Simple Carbohydrates (Sugars): Simple carbohydrates are composed of one or two sugar molecules and are quickly absorbed by the body, leading to rapid increases in blood sugar levels. Examples of simple carbohydrates include glucose (blood sugar), fructose (found in fruits), and lactose (found in milk).

  2. Complex Carbohydrates (Starches): Complex carbohydrates consist of long chains of sugar molecules and take longer to be broken down by the body. This slower digestion results in a more gradual increase in blood sugar levels. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include grains (such as rice, pasta, and bread), legumes (beans and lentils), and starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn).

  3. Dietary Fiber: Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot fully digest. It provides bulk to the diet, aids in digestion, and has various health benefits. Fiber is found in foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Carbohydrates have several important functions in the body:

  • Energy Source: Carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of energy. When consumed, they are broken down into glucose, which can be used by cells for energy. Glucose is also stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen for later use.

  • Brain Function: The brain relies on glucose as its primary energy source. A steady supply of carbohydrates is essential for optimal brain function.

  • Muscle Fuel: Carbohydrates are important for fueling muscles during physical activity. Adequate carbohydrate intake helps improve endurance and performance.

  • Preventing Protein Breakdown: Consuming enough carbohydrates can prevent the body from using protein as an energy source. This is important for preserving muscle mass and preventing muscle breakdown.

  • Regulating Blood Sugar: Fiber-rich carbohydrates can help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of sugars and preventing rapid spikes.

It's important to choose carbohydrates wisely and focus on whole, unprocessed sources of carbohydrates that provide essential nutrients and dietary fiber. Balancing carbohydrate intake with protein, fats, and other nutrients is key to maintaining a healthy diet and supporting overall well-being. The appropriate amount of carbohydrates varies depending on individual factors such as activity level, health goals, and metabolic health.

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