Important benefits of carbohydrates
Carbohydrates, why you need them!
As low-carb foods and diets become a rage, we tell you why carbohydrates form an essential part of your diet.
Carbohydrates are an ideal source of energy for the body, as it can be easily converted into glucose – the body’s energy giver. Although proteins and fats are also sources of glucose, they take much longer.
Nevertheless, too much of it can be bad for you as they can destabilise your blood sugar levels, resulting in fluctuations in energy and mood; and not to forget even lead to weight gain.
Types of carbohydrates:
There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex carbohydrates.
Simple carbohydrates: They are essentially simple sugars such as a bowl of sugar. They exist in natural and refined forms. While fruits and vegetables fall under the natural category, and are super good for your body, the ones that fall under the refined category include biscuits, lollipops, soft drinks (in which sugar is a major ingredient) aren’t healthy and must be limited to small quantities.
Sources of simple carbohydrates:
Natural sources will include fruits, honey and vegetables.
Refined sources of sugars include:
- White and brown sugar
- Soft drinks
Complex carbohydrates: They include starchy foods like bananas, potatoes, rice and bread. Like simple carbohydrates, there are some healthier choices of complex carbohydrates, for example biscuits, refine flour, white rice (refined foods) are less healthy than red rice, root vegetables, bananas etc. (natural sources).
Sources of complex carbohydrates:
Natural starches are found in:
- Root vegetables
- Sweet corn
- Wheat flour
Refined starches are found in:
- Biscuits, pastries
- White flour (Maida)
- White bread
- White rice
Important benefits of carbohydrates:
Ideal source of energy: Carbs are an ideal source of energy, which is their main benefit. When you consume foods that contain carbohydrates, the body breaks it down into simple sugars and then into glucose. The bloodstream then absorbs glucose, the body’s energy giver and transports it to the cells and muscles with the help of insulin for immediate use. The surplus is stored as an energy reserve in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen (a polysaccharide that is the principal storage form of glucose in animal and human cells) or as body fat.
Protects muscle tissue: When your body needs energy, it helps itself to glucose stored as glycogen. If it’s needs are not met, the body burns protein tissue in the muscles. Thus, giving your body sufficient carbohydrates will prevent it from breaking down muscle tissue for the energy it needs.
Good for digestion: The dietary fibre found in carbohydrates aids digestion by moving food quickly thourgh intestines. It helps prevent digestive diroders such as constipation or diverticulitis (infection that occurs when gets stuck in small pouches in the wall of the colon). Dietary fibre also bulks up the stool, making it softer. It thus reduces risk of developing hemorrhoids and lessens the discomfort if you already have it.
They aid in weight management: Carbohydrate-rich foods like oats, bananas, whole grains are all sources of dietary fibre that gives you a feeling of fullness, thus cutting the risk of overeating, which benefits weight management.
What carbs to choose?
From both categories: simple and complex carbohydrates, it’s better to choose natural sources over their refined counterparts because they not only contribute to long-term health but also appetite control and sustained energy levels.
If you need instant energy, simple carbohydrates are a better bet. However, complex carbohydrates provide a slower and more sustained release of energy than simple carbohydrates.
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