Carbohydrates in food
Carbohydrates essentially give the body cells the energy they need everyday. There are three categories of carbohydrates. The illustration below shows the three categories.
Carbohydrates in this group are in simple form, and include single sugars that are easily absorbed into the blood stream. 'Saccharide' simply means sugar. They come from foods like honey, fruit juices and some vegetables and are a source of quick, instant energy.
Carbohydrates in this group are naturally occurring sugars. They are chemically composed of two sugars linked together and need certain enzymes to break them up to release the sugars. Maltose, sucrose and lactose are in this group and in foods such as milk or table sugar.
These are more complex carbohydrates. They are made up of many simple sugars linked together. Starch and cellulose are examples of polysaccharides found in carbohydrates. They are found in grains such as rice and wheat, corn, and tubers such as potatoes, yams, cassava, starchy vegetables and legumes. The starches in these foods do not easily dissolve in water. They are released and easier to be absorbed when they are cooked. These foods also need to go though digestion to release the energy molecules in them.
Some types of polysaccharides are not easily broken down during digestion. They are very helpful too, by providing the digestive system with roughage. Lettuce, whole grains and bran are high in roughage, high in fibre, and are great in helping with food digestion.
It is important to choose healthy sources of carbohydrates than unhealthy sources. For example, whole grains, quinoa, beans and unprocessed sources are better, as they are slow to digest and may reduce a person’s chances of weight gain, diabetes and heart diseases.