Include sources of carbohydrates in the diet is crucial to provide an optimal level of energy to the body. Carbohydrates in the diet play a very important role. Although there have been myths about its consumption, it is one of the essential macro nutrients that cannot be lacking in a balanced diet. They are the main source of energy for the body, being determinants for good physical and mental performance. In addition, they intervene in the functions of metabolism and are key in the synthesis of proteins and lipids. In fact, they are the base of the food pyramid, since their recommended consumption must correspond to 55% of the daily calories required. For this reason it is important to understand why they should not be excluded from the diet and what their function is.
What are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are an,
“Essential macro nutrient whose main function is to provide energy to the body”.
They are present in all foods that contain starch and sugars, and can be simple or complex depending on their chemical structure. The digestive system takes this nutrient and converts it into glucose (blood sugar). Then, it travels through the bloodstream and is used by cells for optimal functioning of vital organs.
Main Characteristics of Carbohydrates:
- They are composed of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen.
- They are determinants for the life of organic molecules.
- Within dietary carbohydrates is dietary fiber.
- They store energy.
- The plant foods are the main sources of carbohydrates.
Classification of Carbohydrates:
Carbohydrates are classified according to their chemical structure and the type of assimilation they have in the body. All varieties have the main effect of providing energy to the body. However, some are more recommended in the diet because they do not affect digestion or raise glucose levels.
In this group are monosaccharides and disaccharides. They are also known as fast-absorbing carbohydrates and are characterized by their high glycemic index. Some examples are: fructose, glucose, maltose and lactose.
Their glycemic index is low and they are recommended for their significant contribution of dietary fiber. They are formed by the union of several molecules of monosaccharides , which forces the body to work more to degrade them and produce energy. They are also known as slow assimilation carbohydrates.
Function of Carbohydrates in the Diet
Carbohydrates in the diet are known for their energy value. However, its correct assimilation is also related to other aspects of the health and functions of the organism. Let’s review in detail the most important ones.
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