Do you often feel the lack of energy in your working hours or during study classes? If getting lethargic and feeling sluggish have become a part of your day-to-day life, it is high time to check your dietary constituents. Take it as an alarm to ensure that your diet involves sufficient sources of carbohydrate or not. This is one of those nutrition articles that will give you a complete guide and knowledge on carbohydrate food list through examples of various types of carbohydrate rich foods.
It is tough to give definition or meaning of carbohydrate yet we can describe it through its classification and functions. Among all the constituents of food: macronutrients and micronutrients, carbohydrate is the prime source of energy. Normally a person intakes 4-6 gm to 4-6 kg of carbohydrates in a day, where 1 gm of simple carbohydrate yields 3.87 calories of energy and complex carbohydrate, 3.57 to 4.12 calories of energy.
Mechanism or Function of Carbohydrate
The key function of carbohydrate is to provide fuel or energy to the body, especially the nervous system and the brain. During its course of action, the amylase enzyme helps in breaking it down into blood sugar or glucose, which further is utilized by the body as energy.
Carbohydrate in Daily Diet
We take it in three forms: sugar, starch, and fibre.
Carbohydrate in Biochemistry
Also termed as saccharide, carbohydrates are classified in two types:
- In biochemistry, they can be classifies in four chemical groups:
Monosaccharide (Simple Sugar)
Disaccharide (Double Sugar and Complex Sugar)
- Monosaccharide and disaccharide come in simple carbohydrate's family.
- Polysaccharide and Oligosaccharide come in complex carbohydrate's family.
Types of Carbohydrate
Simple carbohydrate complex carbohydrate
Simple Carbohydrate: Sugars
Found in two forms and sweet in taste, sugars are essential part of human diet. Formed of just one or two molecules of sugar, simple carbohydrates are digested and absorbed rapidly.
Sources of Simple Carbohydrate
Table sugar, brown sugar, honey, fruit drinks, soft drinks, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, jams, jellies, and candy
Natural Sources: Vegetables and Milk Products
Milk and milk products, fruits, vegetables
Refined or Processed Sources
Table sugar, syrups, candy, carbonated beverages (for example: soda)
The proper or ample carbohydrate containing sources are the natural ones. Other refined, synthesized, or processed sources may give you empty calories, resulting in weight gain. So, it is suggested to intake the natural sources of carbohydrate, instead of artificial.
Types of Simple Carbohydrate or Sugars
Simple carbohydrates are basically sugars: simple sugar (monosaccharide), double sugar (disaccharide) and complex sugar.
Simple Sugar: Monosaccharide
This form of sugar does not pose any digestive strain and without need of digestion, it gets absorbed directly. Glucose, fructose, and galactose come in simple sugar’s family. These are the basic unit of carbohydrates and simplest form of sugar. They are colorless, crystalline solids, and with water soluble properties.
Sources of Simple Sugars:
- Fructose (fruits)
- Galactose (milk products)
Double Sugar: Disaccharides or Biose
These are formed by reaction of two monosaccharides.
Sources of Double Sugars:
- Lactose (dairy products and milk sugar)
- Maltose (vegetables and beer)
- Sucrose (beet sugar or saccharose, table sugar, and cane sugar)
- Honey (As honey contains minerals and vitamins too, it is suggested to avoid giving it to kids younger than a year)
For getting absorbed, this form of sugar needs to pose digestive strain. After digestion, it takes the form of simple sugar and then gets absorbed.
Commonly Used Sources of Sugars
Commonly consumed sugars are: white sugar or cane sugar, fruits, honey, jaggery.
Complex Carbohydrate: Fiber and Starch
When sugar molecules strung like necklace or get branched like a coil, they come in the family of complex carbohydrate.
Sources of Complex Carbohydrate
- Whole plant foods, green vegetables,
- Whole grains, food made of whole grains: oatmeal, whole-grain bread, pasta
- Starchy vegetables: pumpkin, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes
- Beans, peas, lentils
Types of Complex Carbohydrate
Complex carbohydrates are basically starch (Polysaccharide) and fiber (Oligosaccharide).
Sources of Starch
- Cereals: Wheat, Rice, Jowar, Bajra, Corn, Ragi
Amount of starch: 65 to 80%
- Grains and pulses
Amount of starch: 30 to 40%
- Nuts and oil seeds
Amount of starch: 10 to 20%
- Starchy vegetables: Roots and tubers
Amount of starch: 20 to 40%
- Other: Potato and maize
Fiber: Oligosaccharides or Oligos
- Fibers are complex carbohydrates and pure constituent of plant food. They are non energy provider and non starchy in characteristics.
- These are saccharide polymers that are formed by reaction of about 3 to 9 monosaccharides (simple sugars).
- These are also nutritionally supplemented in tablets, capsules, and as power.
Major Sources of Fiber: Fruits, plants, and vegetables
Natural Sources of Fiber: burdock, chicory, artichoke, Jerusalem, leeks, asparagus, onions, soybeans
Forms of Fiber: Insoluble and soluble
Insoluble form of Fiber
Insoluble fibers promote the normal bowel habits as there bulk forming activity increases the motility. Being the insoluble fiber and cellulose, they also ensure the exposure to toxins. These are unidentified polysaccharides that resistant the starch, and are high in pectin.
Sources of Insoluble Fiber: Whole wheat, Jawar, Millets, Oats, Guar bean
Soluble form of Fiber
Soluble fibers delay the absorption of carbohydrate to regulate the blood sugar level. They prevent from atherosclerosis and cholelithiasis by reducing blood cholesterol and increasing cholesterol excretion.
Sources of Soluble Fiber: Mucilages, Carageenan, Rice, Oats, Bran, Beans, fruits and vegetables
Although they do not supply energy to body, yet are significantly important as they prevent from the diseases.
So now you know about carbohydrates, its types, classification, and sources that can give you instant energy or can keep you energized for long. Nature has a lot to give you. Connect with it directly and consume without getting those refined or processed stuff in between.
Eat the fresh and good stuff! Stay energized!