Understanding Carbohydrates

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Carbohydrates are a major source of energy needed for accomplishing everyday physical activities and bodily functions. According to the Canadian Sugar Institute (1997), carbohydrates make up for 40 to 80 percent of the total food energy intake among humans worldwide…

Introduction

Understanding Carbohydrates

Some sources of carbohydrates have undergone processing and therefore have different effects on the body as compared to those carbohydrates that did not go through refinements or processes. Because of this, it becomes essential to properly select the carbohydrate-rich foods that would be included in the everyday diet.

Carbohydrates, also referred to as saccharides, are basically divided into simple and complex types. The simple carbohydrates are monosaccharides, or the simple sugars such as glucose, which are composed of single chain molecules of sugar. Complex carbohydrates are made up of di- or polysaccharides, which means that several monosaccharides make up the molecular structure. Simple and complex carbohydrates can be distinguished by taste. Simple carbohydrates are sweet, while the complex types, such as potatoes, are not (Kennedy, 2006). There are other ways of classifying carbohydrates. For example, the Canadian Sugar Institute (1997) classified them into three: sugars, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides.

Carbohydrates supply energy to the body once it is turned into glucose. When food rich in carbohydrates are ingested, they are broken down into a simple form of sugar, glucose, which is then absorbed by the red blood cells for energy (Kennedy, 1997). It is also the preferred source of energy by the brain, the nervous system, placenta and fetus. ...
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