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Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient that your body requires, along with fats and protein. They are responsible for supplying your body with glucose, which is the primary energy source for the human body. Glucose can either be used immediately or stored in the liver and muscles for later use. Composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, 1 gram of carbohydrate offers around 4 calories.
In this particular blog, we will be looking at the various ways in which carbohydrates benefit us and their classification, which gives you a better understanding of the carbs that you should have and the ones you should avoid.
CLASSIFICATION OF CARBOHYDRATES
Carbohydrates can broadly be classified into two groups based on their composition and how they are broken down and absorbed by your body to provide energy.
SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES AND COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES
Simple carbohydrates are a set of carbohydrates composed of one or two sugar molecules, i.e., monosaccharides or disaccharides. Having a fundamental composition, simple carbohydrates are broken down readily by your body to be used as energy. Simple carbohydrates sources of food provide you with instant energy, but they fail to keep your stomach full for longer, and you may feel hungry quicker.
Contrarily, Complex Carbohydrates are those composed of a chain of many sugar molecules, i.e., Polysaccharides. It makes it difficult for your body to break them down and absorb the energy in. And because of this particular trait of theirs, they have been termed Complex carbohydrates. Food sources of this category have more health benefits to offer as compared to those of simple carbohydrates. They are a powerhouse of several vitamins, minerals, and fiber and tend to keep your stomach full for a decent period.
Simple carbohydrates naturally occur in most fruits, milk, and all its products, while the latter is commonly found in beans, whole grains, and vegetables.
KEY FUNCTIONS OF CARBOHYDRATES
PROVIDES YOUR BODY WITH ENERGY
Carbohydrates are the primary sources of energy for the human body. As they are absorbed in, they are broken down into glucose before it enters the bloodstream. The glucose in the blood is then picked up by your body’s cell and is used in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a fuel molecule, through the process of cellular respiration. Your body then uses this fuel molecule ATP, to facilitate a variety of metabolic tasks.
Not just that but carbohydrates also provides you with a bank of energy that can be stored primarily in your liver and other muscles. The glucose is converted and stored glycogen. This can be released into the blood from time to time to provide energy and maintain normal blood sugar levels between meals.
AIDS DIGESTIVE HEALTH
The human body absorbs carbohydrates in various forms like – sugar, starch, and fiber. Sugar and starch are converted to glucose on absorption. However, fiber is not. They pass as it is and can be classified into two types based on its role – soluble and insoluble fiber.
Fiber plays a significant role in promoting digestive health. They improve your stool consistency, frequency of bowel movement and reduce the strain and pain experienced at bowel movement. They do so by absorbing water as it moves and adds it to bulk up your stool, and softens it to allow the bowel’s more effortless movement. Carbohydrates overall promote a healthy gut.
IT INFLUENCES HEART HEALTH AND DIABETES
Carbohydrates influence your heart health and risk of diabetes to a great extent. Having an excessive amount of refined carbohydrates can be hazardous for your heart. However, having a fair amount of dietary carbs can benefit your heart and blood sugar level.
The fiber present in carbohydrates doesn’t lead to an increase in your blood sugar level, unlike the other two types of carbohydrates do. They delay the rapid absorption of carbs in your digestive tract maintaining lower blood sugar levels following meals.
Carbohydrates play several key roles to ensure the smooth and effective functioning of your body. They provide you with energy to sustain all day long and promote better digestive and overall health. It’s essential to have an adequate carbohydrates intake as its excessive consumption can lead to serious health issues.