Carbohydrates— types of macronutrients found in many foods like fruits, veggies, starches, milk, seeds and grains— are important in a balanced diet because they contribute to correct and efficient body function. According to the Mayo Clinic, “The most basic carbohydrate is a sugar molecule, which joins together one or two units of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Other carbohydrates contain three or more units of the carbon-hydrogen-oxygen trio.”
Types of Carbohydrates
There are three main types of carbohydrates:
1. Simple carbohydrates (sugars): Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrate. Simple carbs can be digested very quickly. Examples are cereals, honey, molasses, brown sugar, soft drinks, sweets snack bars, corn syrup, male syrup, biscuits, cakes.
2. Complex Carbohydrates: Starch. Examples of complex carbs are bread, cereal, pasta and rice.
3. Dietary Fiber
• Soluble fiber is found in the following: oatmeal, oat bran, nuts and seeds, most fruits, dry beans and peas.
• Insoluble fiber is found in the following: whole-wheat bread, barley, brown rice, couscous, whole-grain cereals, wheat bran, seeds, most vegetables, fruits.
Importance of Carbohydrates
• Energy: The main role of carbohydrates is to give energy to your body.
• Good source of fiber and weight control: Fiber has many health benefits, such as proper function of the digestive system. The fiber content in high-carbohydrate foods can also aid weight control and healthy weight loss.
• Vitamins and phytonutrients
I recommend carbohydrates that are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and low in fat and calories. I like fruits (like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes etc.
1 cup of strawberries has 52 calories 11.4 grams of carbs (2.1 grams dietary fiber)
1 cup blueberries has 79 calories, 18.9 grams of carbs (4.2 grams dietary fiber)
1 cup raspberries has 64 calories,14.7 grams of carbs (8 grams dietary fiber)
1 oz sweet potatoes has 24 calories, 5.6 grams of carbs (0.6 grams dietary fiber)
1 cup brown rice has 218 calories, 45.8 grams of carbs (3.5 grams dietary fiber)
MayoClinic.com suggests that you get 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories from carbohydrates, or within the range of 225 to 325 grams or 900 to 1,300 calories.
The exact amount of carbohydrates needed for a person is very subjective! The amount depends on your fitness goals. I try to eat a portion of fat, protein and carbs in every meal.
Balance, as I mention in all my articles, is the key to living a healthy life! Don’t worry about eating carbs! Correct portions and quality will result in a proper carb intake, which won’t lead to fat gain.