What are carbohydrates and what are they for

What are carbohydrates and what are they for

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There are those who don't even want to hear them say, for fear of gaining weight, but i carbohydrates they are not the devil, indeed, they are very important for our health. They are gods fundamental macro-nutrients that we find in many foods of our healthy Mediterranean diet and there is no reason to be afraid of them.

What are carbohydrates

In the category of carbohydrates we find different types of substances that remind us of as many very different types of foods. We find sugars, starches and dietary fibers. Those who look at this food category with suspicion or even hatred make a mistake and eliminate it from their lives would risk getting health problems on their own because there are many vital functions for which they are necessary.

Let's hold on to ours healthy and balanced diet based on the model of the Mediterranean diet because it is one of the best structured and allows us to eat delicious carbohydrates such as pasta while remaining healthy and not becoming obese.

Beyond tastes and traditions, however, there are rules to be respected such as the one that requires us to eat carbohydrates in order to obtain at least 55% of the total calories. It depends on age and sex, the type of life and health conditions, but this makes you understand that they are not to be eliminated.

Before understanding what the carbohydrates let's find out which foods are richer in it

  • milk, yogurt and ice cream;
  • all fruit and juices;
  • bread, pasta, rice, crackers and cereals;
  • beans and other legumes;
  • potatoes and corn;
  • candy, cookies and other sweets.

As you see with your own eyes, there is not only junk on this list, in fact, it is full of healthy foods such as fruit, yogurt, pasta… We have to get used to thinking that it is a source of energy especially if we are talking about whole grains, while it is better not to overdo it with sweets, snacks and candies.

What are carbohydrates used for

The main function of these macro-nutrients is to provide energy to both the muscles and the central nervous system. If we don't take the right amount of carbohydrates, our body is forced to draw from other sources and fetches proteins using it as an energy source.

Types of carbohydrates

The main categorization of carbohydrates sees them divided into simple and complex and is based on the chemical structure and the speed with which they are absorbed, once transformed into simple sugars. The simple ones usually contain only one or two sugars, so they are readily absorbed they are digested quickly and easily, the latter, on the other hand, also called polysaccharides, have three or more sugars and cannot be directly absorbed, first they must be transformed into simple ones through a non-trivial work especially at the gastrointestinal level. It is therefore clear that there are more complexes difficult to digest and take longer.

Complex carbohydrates

Let's find out more about what happens in our body when we are digesting a complex carbohydrate. As it passes through our digestive system, it is broken down into individual sugar units - such as glucose and fructose - which can be absorbed in the small intestine. From here, through the bloodstream they reach the liver where all sugars are converted into glucose which is used to produce energy in the different parts of our body. To get there, it is transported through the bloodstream, thanks to insulin.

Excess glucose, i.e. not needed at the moment, is stored in the form of glycogen and when these deposits are also full, they turn into fat. If, on the other hand, we have not ingested enough carbohydrates, for which we lack glycogen reserves, then our body fetches proteins to produce energy.

Cellulose: what it is for

Cellulose, present in fruit, grains and vegetables and legumes, is a polysaccharide made up of thousands of glucose units joined and made impossible to digest. The role of cellulose is linked to digestion because it promotes healthy bowel movements and reduces the risk of suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Recipes with carbohydrates

Let's see some tasty recipes to fill up on carbohydrates and at the same time stay fit. There is something for all tastes and these are just examples to make your mouth water. As first courses we can prepare a Cous cous with vegetables and chickpeas, spaghetti with garlic, oil and chilli or a pasta with peas. Let's move on to sweets, often rich in carbohydrates, such as meringues, biscuits and cakes such as fruit tarts, apricot or quince pies.

For a snack, even the classic light cereal bars, puffed rice with chocolate and lemon sorbet.

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Video: Why Are Carbohydrates Important? (May 2022).