Carbohydrates contribute to a
healthful diet by providing an energy source that is released in an even
gradual manner. When your body breaks down the starches in these foods
into glucose, it actually expends some energy. Your body's organs and
muscles can use protein and fats to provide energy, but these nutrients
must first be altered into a form that your body is able to use. This
taxes the body, and also generates toxins that must be cleared out of your
When complex carbohydrates are made
part of the meal in the form of whole grains, cereals and meals, starchy
vegetables, and dried legumes, they provide additional elements your body
requires, including fiber, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
Many whole foods are refined or
processed in the some way, In some instances, this can be beneficial. Cracking
grains makes it easier to both cook and eat them. However, some foods can
be refined to the point that they offer little more than starch, without
the nutritional benefits you can derive from the unprocessed version.
Steel-cut oats, cooked into a rich porridge, are a better value than
cookies made with quick-cooking instant oats. This is true not only
because the cookies have added fats and refined sugar, but also because
the process of refining the oats has removed much of the vitamins,
minerals, and fiber of the oats grouts.
Often referred to as "simple sugar",
simple carbohydrates are found in great concentration in fruits, as well
as in vegetables and milk. The naturally occurring sugar found in fruit is
referred to as fructose. Milk contains lactose, and grapes contain a
simple sugar known as maltose. When you eat whole fresh fruits, you get
the added benefit of a whole host of additional nutrients, including
vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water.
Honey, maple syrup, molasses, white
and brown sugar, corn syrups, and other sweeteners are all refined, and
offer very little beyond a few traces of minerals and calories. These
calories provide nothing beyond "empty calories" to distinguish them from
other sugars. Even blackstrap molasses provides very little in terms of
vitamins or minerals.
Refined sugars do play an important
part in many recipes. They moisten, preserve, and flavor foods. However,
they can boost the calorie level of foods without offering any other
benefit. Too many calories in your diet will result ultimately in weight
Your body cannot digest fiber; it is
not really a source of nutrition. Still, it has an important role in
regulating the body properly. In some studies, soluble fiber has been
shown to aid in reducing the overalls levels of cholesterol in the blood.
Insoluble fiber helps to move foods through the gut quickly, preventing
various gastrointestinal upsets such as constipation and diarrhea.
Meeting Carbohydrate and Fiber
Most dietary guidelines recommend that
at least 50 percent of your day's today calories come from carbohydrates,
with as few of those calories as possible derived from refined sugars
found in sweeteners, jams, jellies, and confections. Fiber is another
important part of a healthful diet. The suggested number of servings of
carbohydrate-rich foods ranges from 8 to 12, depending upon how many
calories a person needs each day.