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About Carbohydrates


Carbohydrates contribute to a healthful diet by providing an energy source that is released in an even and 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 system.

Complex Carbohydrates

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.

Simple Carbohydrates

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.

Refined Sugars

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 gain.


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 Requirements

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.

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