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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Carbohydrates >>  Carbohydrate Foods

Carbohydrate Foods

Carbohydrates are a category of compounds which are derived from organic sources. They are an ideal source of providing energy to our body, since the body most readily absorbs them and converts them into glucose which can be easily assimilated. Though there are some foods that have large quantities of carbohydrates, almost all foods contain some amounts of carbohydrates, with fats being the only exception.  

Though carbohydrate foods are good for the body and supply it with energy, it is important to consume carbohydrates in moderation so that the delicate balance of sugar in the body is not disturbed. If the sugar balance in the body is disturbed, it may cause problems in the metabolic processes and may also result in fluctuations of energy.

To balance the intake of carbohydrate, other vital foods like proteins, fiber, and fat should also be consumed.

The consumption of refined carbohydrates and simple sugars can be detrimental to health. Carbohydrates should never be used to replace the calories received from proteins since that can again be damaging to the health. Carbohydrates can lead to weight gain, but only if they are consumed in excessive quantities. If they are consumed regularly in proper quantities, they are useful to the body and are not stored in excess.
High carbohydrate foods can also harm health, especially high-carbohydrate foods like pastries and cakes that are loaded with refined carbohydrates. Since the calories which are not burnt are converted and stored as fats, consuming a regular high carbohydrate diet can cause excessive weight gain or obesity and subsequently the lifestyle diseases that stem from them.

There are many carbohydrate foods, which when consumed in their natural state, have many benefits to the human body. These foods are low in fats and high in fiber, also proving to be excellent sources of vitamins. They can also supply the body with a healthy dose of minerals if they are consumed in the right amounts. To derive the maximum benefits of carbohydrates, they should constitute only 40% of your entire diet. Problems related to the excessive consumption of carbohydrates only arise when the diet consists of more than 50% of carbohydrates.

Those who have been consuming a high carbohydrate diet, or those who suffer from diseases like hypertension, high blood pressure and diabetes, are advised to consume low carbohydrate foods. People who are looking to reduce their weight, are also asked to eat low carb diet foods.

There are several types of carbohydrates, but they are broadly classified into three categories.

  • Simple Carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates, or sugars, exist in a natural or refined form. They are found in both fruits and vegetables. A single sugar unit is known as a monosaccharide and two units are known as disaccharides. Both of these are simple sugars. Glucose and fructose are also single sugars and are the primary form of sugar in which energy is stored in the body. While fruits contain natural fructose, most sweet food items contain sugars that are processed and refined. The common household sugar that we use is nothing but refined sugar. Refined sugars are found in cakes, pastries, sweets, snack bars, jams, and other such processed foods.
  • Starch or Complex Carbohydrates. Starches are powdery or granular in their physical form. They are complex carbohydrates with long chains of carbohydrate molecules. These are found naturally in foods. Refined starches can be found in refined or processed foods. Foods like beans, barley, lentils, chickpeas, bananas, potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, are complex carbohydrates in their natural form. Foods like bread, pasta, rice, and refined flour are refined starches.
  • Fiber. Soluble fibers are another kind of carbohydrate. Fibers are only present in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Although it has no nutritional value, fiber makes it easy for food to move through the digestive system.
Submitted on January 16, 2014