Fundamentals of Carbohydrates. How Are They Healthy?

If you’ve done any research at all into nutrition, you know that there are “good carbohydrates,” or bad carbs.  But have you ever wondered, “What exactly are carbs?” They are believed to induce unintentional weight gain and have become the adversary of many dieters.
And, more importantly, do any carbs merit the attention they get? This article will explore all the needed guidance for carbs.

Carbohydrates, along with protein and fat, are essential macronutrients for everyday functioning. These carbohydrates may be found in a number of different structures such as:essential nutireints and carbohydrates

  • Fibers in the diet are complex carbohydrates slowly absorbed by the body. Foods including fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains contain it naturally.
  • Total sugars, Carbohydrates of this kind are long chains of simple sugars. They comprise both naturally occurring and added sugars and are thus higher in meals like baked goods, sweets, and desserts than, say, a diet low in them. Sugars cannot be directly used as an energy source, thus they are rapidly absorbed by the body and broken down into energy.
  • Sugar alcohols, Because of their purest form, go under the name “simple carbs.” They are poorly absorbed by the human digestive system. They are just as tasty as sugar but far healthier. Sugar alcohol is used as a low-calorie sweetener in meals including chewing gum, baked goods, and candies.
Types of Carbs Examples.
Single sugar molecules are referred to as monosaccharides.
  • Glucose, the body’s principal energy source
  • Galactose, found mostly in milk and dairy products
  • Fructose is present n fruit and vegetables 
Two sugar molecules form disaccharides.
  • Lactose is the milk sugar (made of glucose and galactose) 
  • Sucrose table sugar (made of glucose and fructose) 
Polysaccharides are polysugar chains.  They can have hundreds to thousands of chains in them. 
  • Glycogen, which stores energy in the liver and muscles
  • Starches found in potatoes and corn
  • Celulose found in plants  

They may combine to produce polymers, or chains, which can then be used to make other forms of carbs. Two primary classes of carbohydrates exist refined’ carbohydrates (which consist of the subtype of carbohydrate known as sugar) and ‘complex’ carbohydrates (which consist of the carbohydrate sub-types starch and fiber).

Refined Carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates also known as simple carbohydrates, like all other types of carbs, are made up of short molecular chains that are easily converted to glucose in the body, leading to a rapid and dramatic increase in blood sugar levels (a “spike”) shortly after eating. This prompts an increase in insulin production, allowing glucose to enter cells and be used for fuel.

Sugars (e.g., glucose, fructose, and sucrose) and products derived from grains in which the fiber-containing wheat germ and bran have been removed are examples of refined carbohydrates. Among refined carbs are:

  • Sugar-sweetened meals including cakes, cookies, candies, and pastries.
  • Various carbonated beverages, fruit juices, and smoothies.
  • White bread and white pasta
  • White rice
  • Breakfast cereals, cereal bars, and energy bars with added sugar

Refined carbohydrates are typically discouraged by nutritionists and should be saved for special occasions rather than incorporated into every meal.

carbohydrates good vs bad

Complex Carbohydrates.

They include polysaccharides. When compared to simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates have longer chains of sugar molecules. Longer chain lengths in complex carbs mean they take longer to digest and release their energy slowly into the body. This supplies your body with sustained energy, as opposed to the blood sugar rise and subsequent “crash” that can leave you feeling weak, hungry, and disoriented.

In comparison, refined carbohydrates from grains have been stripped of their nutrients during the refining process, whereas complex carbohydrates retain their nutrition. Complex carbohydrates derived from grains contain a number of elements, such as vitamin B1, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, and manganese.

Examples of complex carbs are:

  • Whole fruits and vegetables
  • Legumes, like beans and lentils
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Whole wheat products
  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Oats
  • Sweet Potato

The human body may use fats and proteins as fuel, but carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy since they feed all of its cells.

How, therefore, do glucose and carbohydrates become used by the body? Carbs are metabolized into simple sugars as monosaccharides building blocks and taken into circulation. The pancreas secretes the hormone insulin in response to an increase in blood sugar; this hormone is necessary to transport sugar from the blood into the cells, where it may be utilized for energy.

But the digestive system doesn’t respond to all the carbs the same, like for starches and fibers that are both polysaccharides. Their composition a joining mechanism differs from each other (starches being alpha bonds and fiber with beta bonds), changing the effect they will have on our bodies. That is why foods that are high in starch like Whitebread and crackers tend to be easily digested and release a bunch of glucose in the blood raising the glycemic index.

Are Carbs Bad? 

Some meals (especially those heavy in simple sugars and highly refined grains like white flour and white rice) contain carbohydrates that are rapidly absorbed by the body and induce a spike in blood sugar. A higher risk of diseases like diabetes has been linked to a diet that is heavy in foods that induce a quick rise in blood sugar. research published in August 2012 in the journal Food and Nutrition Research found that eating an excessive amount of simple carbohydrates led to weight gain. The scientists reviewed 50 pieces of research on food and weight gain and found that, on average, people gained weight in proportion to the number of simple carbohydrates they consumed.

However, the digestion of complex carbohydrates (such as those contained in whole grains) takes longer, leading to a more gradual increase in blood sugar. A review published on January 10, 2019, in the journal The Lancet looked at studies from the past 40 years and found that a diet high in fiber (of which complex carbohydrates are a good source) reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer by 16 to 24 percent and is associated with lower body weight.

Research has connected high sugar intake (particularly in liquid form) to negative health outcomes whereas dietary fibers have been associated with beneficial ones.

Functions of Carbohydrates. carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates’ importance to the human body is undeniable. About 40–80 % of our daily caloric intake comes from carbohydrates, making them a vital source of energy. As a primary source of energy, carbohydrates are encouraged by several health organizations for the following reasons:

  • Energy Source: Carbohydrates’ most obvious benefit is the energy they supply. Your body converts the majority of the carbs you eat into glucose before it enters your circulation. Cellular respiration uses this blood glucose to create ATP, a fuel molecule. Then, cells can use ATP for various metabolic functions. Carbs and lipids can create ATP in most organisms. However, if you eat a balanced diet, most of your cells will use carbs for energy.
  • Can Promote Digestive Heath: In contrast to other carbs like sugars and starches, dietary fiber is not metabolized into glucose. But this type of carbs remains undigested making a division of soluble and insoluble types. The soluble type dissolves and forms a gel-like substance. This facilitates bowel movements by increasing stool bulk and softening stool according to a study. And Insoluble fiber bulks up stools and speeds digestion, relieving constipation saving us from many gastrointestinal diseases. Research including more than 40,000 men revealed that higher consumption of insoluble fiber was related to a 37% reduced risk of diverticular disease, a condition in which pockets form in the gut.
  • Can Benefit Heart Health: The dietary fiber present in the carbs can be beneficial for your heart and blood sugar levels. Psyllium is a soluble fiber supplement that, according to controlled research, can reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol by 7 percent when taken daily at a dose of 10.2 grams. The risk of cardiovascular disease was shown to decrease by 9% for every 7 grams of dietary fiber ingested daily, according to a meta-analysis of 22 observational studies.
  • Can Store energy: Additional carbs can be converted into glycogen, which the body uses as a source of energy when required. The liver and skeletal muscle may each store up to 500 grams.
  • Boosts Mood: Too much restriction of carbohydrates has been linked in certain studies to detrimental psychological and emotional outcomes. One South Australian study found that those who followed a low-carb diet for an entire year saw an increase in depressive, hostile, and anxious feelings. What other effects can a low-carb diet have on the body? Learn Here. 

Dietary Recommendations.

130 grams of carbohydrates per day is the bare minimum necessary for optimal bodily functioning. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, most individuals should derive 45–65 % of their caloric intake from carbs. Carbs provide 4 calories per gram, thus those on a 2000-calorie diet should take between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates every day.

  • Normal Adult: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that a 2,000-calorie diet contain 275 g of carbohydrates per day with suggests getting 28 grams (g) of dietary fiber per day.
  • Pregnant Women: Women who are expecting should ingest 175 g, while nursing moms need 210 grams daily.
  • Elderly: It is advised that older adults consume at least 130 grams of carbs daily.

In general, you can use a formula to determine how many calories you should consume daily from carbohydrates. If you know how many calories you need daily, use that quantity as your starting point.

  • Take your daily calorie requirement and divide it in half. This is the number of calories you should consume from carbohydrates.
  • This quantity is to be divided into four. Each carbohydrate contains four calories, so the remainder is how many carbohydrates you should ingest!
  • For instance, if my recommended daily calorie consumption is 2400, the equation would be as follows:

For example, spitting 2400 by 2. The result was then divided by 4 to yield 300 grams.

What are the food sources of healthy carbs?

These days, it’s not as easy to pick and choose what to consume. Therefore, it’s important to give some thought to the type and number of carbohydrate-rich meals you eat on a daily basis.

Healthy Carbohydrates Carb content in 100grams/ Cup
1. Whole-Wheat Pasta 74.5 grams / 100 g
2. Oats 67.7 grams/100g
3. Legumes and Beans  39.8 g per cup
4. Bananas. 26 grams /100 g
5. Rice 23.5 grams/ 100 g
6. Quinoa  21.3 grams/ 100g
7. Sweet Potatoes 20.7 g/ 100g
8. Apples.  20.6 g / 100 g
9.  Buckwheat 19.9 grams / 100 g
10. Corns  18.7 g/ 100 g
11. Dates 18 grams/ 2 dates serving
12. Oranges  15.5 g / 100 g
13. Berries  14.5 g/ 100 g
14.  Beetroot 13 g/ 100g

Have a look at the top foods that are rich in carbohydrates in detail.

Glycemic Index. 

A useful method for checking up on how various carbs affect blood sugar levels is the glycemic index. Carbohydrates are ranked from 0 to 100 on this scale according to how rapidly they cause a spike in blood glucose. Simple crabs-containing foods have a high glycemic index whereas foods high in fiber like vegetables and fruits seem to have a low glycemic index. And foods like eggs, meat, and cheese have the lowest glycemic index.

Perhaps you’ve heard that your body functions better when you consume complex carbohydrates rather than simple ones. However, it is not always clear from nutrition labels whether or not the carbohydrates included are simple or complex.

Considerations When Selecting a Carbohydrate

Maintaining dietary stability is vital. To provide your body with the necessary nutrients, including carbohydrates, you should consume a variety of nutritious meals. Carbohydrates are an essential component of a balanced diet due to their role in energy production. And selecting the appropriate carbohydrates need not be difficult. By adhering to these five recommendations, you can locate the best source of carbohydrates.

  1. Keep A Check on Food Intake. You may easily monitor your carb intake, as well as your protein and fat intake, with the help of a food-tracking app. Tracking your diet will help you identify areas for improvement. Most individuals don’t know how many calories an item has or what percentage of it is carbohydrates, protein, and fat, but many apps can help them understand these variables. Attempting to alter one’s diet without any prior preparation might be challenging. Those that prepare ahead of time have a better chance of succeeding.
  2. Pick The Right Carbohydrates. Most people associate carbohydrates with grain-based foods such as bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals. However, they are not all identical. Whole grains and refined grains are the two categories of grains. Whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread/pasta/rice, oatmeal, and bulgur, are the healthiest option when making a selection. Whole-wheat bread/pasta/rice, oatmeal, and bulgur are the healthiest choices.
  3. Balance it out. It’s crucial to strike a healthy equilibrium between the many types of carbohydrates you consume, just as it is with everything else in life. In order to strike a healthy balance, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that you make whole grains up to half of your daily grain intake. Maintaining your health goals can be aided by selecting a healthy eating pattern that is both practical and enjoyable.


Carbohydrates are essential to good health, and healthy people are aware of this fact. A diet high in whole grains, fruits, root vegetables, legumes, and low-fat dairy products is one of the best methods to meet carbohydrate needs.



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Being a Doctor by profession, Aimen is passionate about helping people get better health in their lives. Aimen enjoys her research on Prime With Time subjects and strives to create better awareness of the problems and changes related to women's health.
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