Carbohydrates are one of the main types of nutrients. They are the most important source of energy for your body. Your digestive system changes carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). Your body uses this sugar for energy for your cells, tissues, and organs. Store the extra sugar in your liver and muscles for when it’s needed.

Carbohydrates – What are they

Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches, and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables, and dairy products. Although often maligned in fad diets, carbohydrates, one of the basic food groups, are important for a healthy life.

Carbohydrates – Classification

Carbohydrates are called simple or complex, depending on their chemical structure. The former are sugars that are naturally found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and dairy products. They also include added sugars during food processing and refining. Complex carbohydrates include whole grains and breads, starchy vegetables, and legumes. Many of the complex carbohydrates are good sources of fiber. For a healthy diet, limit the amount of added sugar you eat and choose whole grains over refined grains.

Carbohydrates – Structure

Previously, the name “carbohydrate” was used in chemistry for any compound with the formula Cm (H2O). Following this definition, some chemists considered formaldehyde (CH2O) to be the simplest carbohydrate, while others claimed the title for glycolaldehyde.

Today the term is generally understood in the sense of biochemistry, which excludes compounds with only one or two carbons and includes many biological carbohydrates that deviate from this formula. For example, while the representative formulas above appear to capture the commonly known carbohydrates, the abundant and ubiquitous carbohydrates often deviate from this. For example, carbohydrates often display chemical groups such as: N-acetyl (eg, chitin), sulfate (eg, glycosaminoglycans), carboxylic acid (eg, sialic acid), and deoxy modifications (eg, fucose and acid). sialic).

Natural saccharides are generally composed of simple carbohydrates called monosaccharides with the general formula (CH2O) n where n is three or more. A typical monosaccharide has the structure H- (CHOH) x (C = O) – (CHOH) yH, that is, an aldehyde or ketone with many added hydroxyl groups, usually one on each carbon atom that is not part of the functional group aldehyde or ketone.

Examples of monosaccharides are glucose, fructose, and glyceraldehydes. However, some biological substances commonly called “monosaccharides” do not fit this formula (eg uronic acids and deoxy sugars like fucose) and there are many chemicals that meet this formula but are not considered monosaccharides (eg formaldehyde CH2O ). and inositol (CH2O) 6).

Carbohydrates – Nutrition

Carbohydrates consumed in food produce 3.87 kilocalories of energy per gram for simple sugars, and 3.57 to 4.12 kilocalories per gram for complex carbohydrates in most other foods. Relatively high levels of carbohydrates are associated with processed or refined foods made from plants, including candy, cookies and candy, table sugar, honey, soda, breads and cookies, jams and fruit products, pasta, and breakfast cereals .

Lower amounts of carbohydrates are generally associated with unrefined foods, including unrefined beans, tubers, rice, and fruit. Animal foods generally have the lowest levels of carbohydrates, although milk contains a high proportion of lactose.

They are called carbohydrates because, on a chemical level, they contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. There are three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fat, Smathers said. Macronutrients are essential for the proper functioning of the body, and the body requires large amounts of them.

An amount of 135 grams is recommended for adults, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH); however, the NIH also recommends that everyone have their own carbohydrate goal. Carbohydrate intake for most people should be between 45 and 65 percent of total calories. One gram of carbohydrates equals approximately 4 calories.

Carbohydrates – Function

Carbohydrates provide fuel for the central nervous system and energy for working muscles. They also prevent protein from being used as an energy source and enable fat metabolism, according to Iowa State University.

They are important for brain function. They influence mood, memory, as well as a quick energy source.

Simple carbohydrates vs. complex

Carbohydrates are classified as simple or complex, Smathers said. The difference between the two forms is the chemical structure and how quickly the sugar is absorbed and digested. Simple ones are digested and absorbed more quickly and easily than complex ones.

Simple carbohydrates contain only one or two sugars, such as fructose (found in fruits) and galactose (found in dairy products). These individual sugars are called monosaccharides. Carbohydrates with two sugars, such as sucrose (table sugar), lactose (from dairy products), and maltose (found in beer and some vegetables), are called disaccharides.

Simple ones are mainly found in candy, soft drinks, and syrups. However, they are made with processed and refined sugars and have no vitamins, minerals, or fiber. They are called “empty calories” and can lead to weight gain, according to the NIH.

Complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) have three or more sugars. They include beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, potatoes, corn, parsnips, whole grain breads, and cereals.

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