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Jump to:-  What are Carbohydrates?  |  Types of Carbohydrates  |  List of Good Food Sources



Carbohydrates are essential to the well being of the body. Commonly referred to as "carbs",  they are the main source of providing energy in the body and, despite the craze for low-carb diets, should not be cut out of the diet completely:  low-carb doesn't mean no-carb.  Furthermore in a normal healthy diet it is recommended that they should account for about half of the calorie intake for most humans. 


What are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates or saccharides are usually divided into starches and sugar. However, as with many things in life, the consumption of carbohydrates is not that simple. You have to consume the right carbohydrates to get the full benefits.

Types of Carbohydrates


To simplify things, it is easiest to divide carbohydrates into Simple Carbohydrates  and Complex Carbohydrates

Simple Carbohydrates (Simple Sugars)

Simple carbohydrates consist of the refined types of sugar and sugar from fruits. It should be remembered that sugars per say are not essential foods as whilst they provide energy (calories), they don’t provide any nutrients. Simple carbohydrates are used up by the body almost immediately during exercise as a “quick fix” solution. However if you just ate these types of sugars,  whilst you would have instant energy, the increased sugar level in your blood would also make your body produce more insulin, the function of which is dispose excess blood sugar, so your energy levels would drop as the insulin deals with the sugar.

Complex Carbohydrates

This kind of carbohydrate is obtained from starch-rich foods such as potatoes, bread, pasta, rice plus cellulose found in vegetables and fruit. In order to utilise starches for energy, they must first be converted into sugar by the body. As the body takes time to convert carbohydrate to sugar, it is released at a slower rate thus avoiding an insulin rush to dispose of sudden excess blood sugar. Furthermore, because the sugar is released more slowly,  it takes the sugar longer to be broken down, providing a more sustained energy level.


To get the maximum benefits from your daily intake of complex carbohydrates,   it's best to eat foods in their most natural state such as whole meal bread and brown rice and to avoid simple-carbohydrate foods, such as sugary snacks, sugar-sweetened soft drinks, sweets and many processed snack foods.



List of Good Food Sources of  Complex Carbohydrate

(Complex Sugar Foods)

 All bran







 Other root vegetables

 Brown bread


 Brown rice



 Porridge oats




 Shredded wheat



 Granary bread

 Whole meal breads


 Wholegrain cereals





N.B. The best way to provide the diet with complex carbohydrates is to consume foods in their most natural state such as whole meal bread and brown rice.

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