For our body to work properly and efficiently, we need to intake food substances and health supplements that are rich in health-beneficial nutrients. These nutrients, when entering our body, undergo certain biochemical reactions and release some elements and compounds that are essential for maintaining the overall health and fitness of our body. One such nutrient is carbohydrate. Carbohydrate is such a component that is required in optimum amounts in your body to provide the proper levels of energy. In fact, the primary function of carbohydrates is to provide enough energy to our body so that the body can perform all the activities properly and we do not feel tired or exhausted after a long day at work. Though apart from carbohydrates, there are different types of components that also provide energy to the human body, such as protein, healthy fats, and so on, carbohydrates are required for the body for energy production through ATP (Adenosine Tri Phosphate), increasing the overall immune response of the body, protecting the body from the occurrences of harmful diseases, for proper coagulation of blood, and to maintain the proper co-ordination of many other related functions of the body.
All You Need To Know About Carbohydrates:
As we know that there are two main types of nutrients- macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are those that are required in greater proportions in our bodies and micronutrients are those that are required in smaller quantities. Carbohydrate is one such macronutrient that is required in large quantities in your body. Carbohydrates are mostly organic components that are found in large quantities in plant-based food substances such as rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, and so on.
Glucose is an important organic component that is present in our body in different forms. Some of the major functions of the body are carried on by these glucose components, such as proper functioning of the brain, maintaining a proper immune response, taking care of the heart health, and other related physiological functions of the body. In fact, a major portion of the body’s functions is made up of glucose and its compounds. Carbohydrates are derivatives of carbon-containing organic compounds that are mostly required in the body for the synthesis of enough amount of energy within the body so that we can do all the regular functions tirelessly.
In food substances that we have in our daily diet, carbohydrates occur in three major variations, such as follows:
- Dietary fiber: this is a specific form of fiber that is present in food components such as carbohydrates. Dietary fibers are present in foods such as different types of green vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts, beans, whole grains, and so on. These types of carbohydrates in the form of fiber not only help in easier digestion but also help in better absorption of the food substances into the body. Thus better absorption leads to better immunity and since the body receives a greater amount of nutrients, it can produce a greater amount of energy.
- Total sugars: Sugars are often present in food components and thus consumed in the form of starch and other forms of carbohydrates. These are organic compounds, which either occur as natural sugars or are consumed in the form of added sugars in the body. Added and natural sugars are present in different food components that we have in our regular diet such as dairy products like milk, curd, and cheese, plant components such as fruits and fruit juices, vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes, and so on. Apart from these, people also consume added sugars through baked foods, desserts, and sweet dishes by adding table sugar or white sugar and artificial sweeteners.
- Sugar alcohols: these are alcohols or alcohol-containing food substances that are filled with added sugars. This type of organic compound that is consumed as a form of carbohydrate is not completely absorbed and utilized by the body. But these components are much sweeter in taste and have lower calorie content compared to other carbohydrate-containing food substances.
Functions Of The Carbohydrates: The Process Of Energy Production In Your Body
Carbohydrate is quite a controversial nutrient that is quite required in the body. It is a nutrient that is considered the ‘powerhouse of energy. But on the other hand, it is often said by health care experts and dieticians that carbohydrates can increase the glucose levels in the blood, because when carbohydrates are absorbed and broken down into simpler pieces in our bodies, then they produce and release glucose and simpler forms of carbohydrates and thus it may increase the blood glucose levels. This might be a serious downside for people who have type 2 diabetes or high blood glucose levels. But otherwise, carbohydrate consumption is mostly required for the proper synthesis of energy.
As we all know, carbohydrates are complex organic compounds that are composed of carbon as a primary element, along with hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and other elements in the required proportions. Carbohydrate is an essential component that we must consume through our regular diet to obtain the required amount of energy. Most of the food components that are rich in carbohydrates release energy when consumed. As mentioned earlier, the simpler forms of glucose that are released within the body after we consume carbohydrate-rich food substances, then those glucose molecules release energy, which is later used by the body for carrying out several essential physiological functions of the body. The body performs various complex biochemical reactions through which the cells and tissues of the body use the released glucose molecules in the blood to create a special type of molecule known as Adenosine Tri Phosphate (ATP). These ATP molecules are used by the body cells to perform various other necessary functions.
Apart from this, ATP molecules can be produced from some other sources too, such as dietary carbohydrates and fats. This is the reason for which many studies say that we should have a balanced diet that should consist of enough proportions of carbohydrates in them so that we can acquire the desired energy to carry out the necessary body functions (1).
Different Types Of Carbohydrates:
Carbohydrates can be of different types. Carbohydrates can be classified into the following two broad divisions:
1. Simple carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates are organic components that are formed of one or two molecules of sugar. These include compounds such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, and lactose. Simpler carbohydrates are found in food substances such as fruits and fruit juices, dairy products such as milk, curd, ghee, yogurt, cheese, and so on.
2. Complex carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are organic compounds of carbohydrates that are composed of more than two molecules of glucose. In fact, these are complex organic compounds of carbohydrates that are made of long and complex chains of sugar molecules attached together by hydrogen bonds. Some of these types of compounds are oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. Complex carbohydrates are mostly present in fiber and starch-containing food substances such as follows:
- Beans such as kidney beans, soybeans, green beans
- Peas and other legumes
- Foods that are rich in fiber and whole grains such as bread, rice, cereals, and so on
- Green vegetables
Apart from the two major forms of carbohydrates, there can be some more classifications as well, such as follows:
The word ‘mono’ refers to ‘one’ or ‘single’. Thus, monosaccharides are those forms of carbohydrates that are composed of singular units of sugar. Monosaccharides are mostly found in the following components:
- Glucose that provides energy to the body
- Galactose is a compound that is abundantly found in dairy products such as milk, ghee, cheese, yogurt, and so on
- Fructose is found in fruits and vegetables.
‘Di refers to ‘two’. Thus, disaccharides are formed of two molecules of sugar or glucose that are combined together. Disaccharides are found in the following food substances:
- Lactose is composed of glucose and galactose. This is a milk carbohydrate found in milk and other dairy products
- Sucrose is composed of glucose and fructose. This is mostly found in table sugar.
‘Poly’ means ‘multi’ or ‘more than two. As the name suggests, these components are made of complex chains of glucose or sugar molecules in log strands of many sugars. It is said that polysaccharides are formed of innumerable molecules of monosaccharides, in fact, there can be hundreds of thousands of monosaccharides that are joined together to form a single-stranded chain of a polysaccharide carbohydrate molecule. Polysaccharides are both present in plant and animal-based food sources. Some of the foods that are rich in polysaccharides are listed here as follows:
- Glycogen: this component is required for the synthesis and storage of energy in the liver and in the muscles that can be used later for deriving energy.
- Starches: a form of carbohydrate that is abundantly found in plant-based foods such as potatoes, rice, and wheat
- Cellulose: this one is also present in plant parts.
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