What are carbohydrates. All your Questions Answered

There are seven main components of a balanced and healthy diet. They include carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins, minerals, fiber, fats, and water. Each one of these components has a crucial role in the overall well-being of the human body. The verdict is still out on whether carbohydrates are beneficial or hurtful to the body.

Some arguments state that half of the calories you consume each day comes from carbs while on the other hand, some arguments blame carbohydrates for being the main culprit behind type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Today, you will get to read and understand more about carbohydrates, their main purpose in the body and which types of carbs to eat more.

What are carbohydrates?

A simple definition is that carbohydrates are energy giving foods. A complex description, on the other hand, would be that carbohydrates are molecules which contain hydrogen,oxygen,and carbon atoms. There are numerous varieties of carbs. There are however three main varieties of carbs and they can be divided as follows;

• Fiber

The human body does not have the ability to break down or digest fiber. Fiber enters the body and gets out intact. So why do we even bother taking fiber? Fiber rich foods contain bacteria that is extremely useful for you. Fiber is to thank for weight regulation, improving digestion, managing cholesterol levels, maintaining appropriate sugar levels in the blood. In addition, recent studies show that you may live much longer by eating fiber, prevent allergies, and also reduce the chances of developing cancer.

Examples of dietary fiber in this category include, beans, peas,lentils, citrus fruits, barley, oatmeal, blueberries, and apples all of which are soluble fibers hence can dissolve in water. Other examples of insoluble fibers that are equally useful include, brown rice, whole wheat flour, cauliflower, potatoes, wheat bran, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Nuts and carrots are additional foods that contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.

• Starch

This is a type of carbohydrate that supply the body with glucosewhich is important as it helps the body to produce energy.Sources of starch include maize, potatoes, rice, vegetables, wheat, sweet potatoes and barley among many others.

What are the benefits of starch in the human body? Starch aids in keeping blood sugar levels low, reducing appetite, promoting weight loss, and improving digestion. By eating foods containing starch, you are able to feed and maintain the good bacteria located in your gut.

Good bacteria helps prevent viral infections that can cause diarrhea, prevent inflammatory bowel disease, promote good oral health, regulate adverse skin conditions like eczema, prevent colds and allergies, and prevent irritable bowel syndrome, among many other benefits.

• Sugars

Sugars are found in sweet foods containing fructose, glucose,and galactose. Sugars also help fuel the human body with energy to help you carry out both simple and difficult tasks. Carbs that contain high sugar content are digested into fats which are stored for use by the body later or when the need arises.

Good sources of such foods include Fruits, honey, bread, vegetables, cereals, and milk among others. Some manufacturers extract sugar from the aforementioned sources and use it to sweeten soft drinks, make candy among other ingestible products.

These processed sugars do not have any vitamins or minerals and are to blame for rapid weight gain as they can be easily broken down by the body. They are also to blame for dental problems such as cavities and oral issues like gum disease.

List of bad carbs

Carbohydrates can generally be divided into two. There are whole carbohydrates and refined carbohydrates. These can also be referred to as healthy carbs and bad carbs. Whole carbs are foods that contain natural fiber, sugars or starch. On the other hand, refined carbohydrate foods have been processed and are stripped of one or more natural components such as fiber, for instance, to be left only with the sugars.

Here is a list of foods containing bad carbs:

  • Ice cream
  • Chocolates and candies
  • French fries
  • White pasta
  • Processed fruit juice
  • White bread
  • Pastries like cookies and cakes
  • Potato chips
  • White rice
  • Sweetened drinks among many others

The above foods can rapidly increase the amount of sugar in the body which can lead to an increase in appetite and ultimately lead to obesity. Added or processed sugars are also to blame for developing serious diseases such as gout, metabolic syndrome, liver disease, and cardiovascular disease among others.

Healthy carbohydrate foods

These are natural unprocessed foods that significantly promote overall health. They include:

Vegetables

  • Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, silver beet, lettuce among others
  • Roots like potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes
  • Marrow vegetables like cucumbers, pumpkin, butternut, and zucchini
  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts

Legumes

  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Soybeans
  • Peas
  • Clover
  • Carob
  • Chickpeas, among others

Seeds

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Poppy seeds among others

Whole fruits

  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Mangoes
  • Pomegranate
  • Apples
  • Pineapples
  • Peaches, among many others

Nuts

  • Peanuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds etc

Whole grains

  • Whole Wheat
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Pure Oats

Tubers

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Arrowroots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Celeriac
  • Turnips
  • Potatoes
  • Yams, etc

 

Confusion thrives on which type of carbs to eat whether they are classified as good or bad. While some people can well process both types of carbs the majority cannot. When you eat bad carbs, you are forced to count your calories and watch your intake.

On the other hand, when you eat whole foods or healthy carbs you can eat as much as you want without worrying that you will add too much weight or have adverse reactions.

 The rules here are simple, processed carbs are unhealthy while natural carbs are extremely healthy and beneficial to the body.

If you are looking to lose weight, eliminating carbs altogether does not help the situation. You may actually lose weight but your body may be exposed to certain dangers that are easily manageable by eating healthy carbs. Many nutritionists advise their clients to eat low-fat foods in order to lose weight, however, recent reports show that a more practical alternative would be to eat low carb diets.

Low carb diets help you lose weight faster or aid in maintaining a healthy weight while simultaneously supplying your body with all the needed nutrients. You remain healthy and stay light it is a win-winsituation for everyone.

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