Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients, along with protein and fat, that provide energy to the body.
They have been a staple in human diets for thousands of years, dating back to the early days of agriculture when staple crops such as wheat and rice were first cultivated.
Carbohydrates, or “carbs” as they are commonly referred to, are compounds made up of sugars and starches.
They are broken down by the body into glucose, which is used for energy. Carbs are found in a wide range of foods, including bread, pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and sweets such as candy and soda.
There are two main types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbs, such as those found in candy and soda, are quickly absorbed by the body and provide a quick burst of energy.
Complex carbs, such as those found in whole grains and legumes, take longer to digest and provide sustained energy.
Examples of foods that are high in carbohydrates:
• Sweet potatoes
• Fruit (e.g. bananas, grapes, oranges)
• Legumes (e.g. lentils, beans, chickpeas)
• Sugary snacks (e.g. candy, cookies, cake)
The benefits of carbohydrates include providing a quick source of energy for the body and supporting brain function.
They are also an important source of fiber, which can help regulate digestion and lower the risk of certain diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
However, there are also drawbacks to consuming large amounts of carbohydrates. Excessive intake of simple carbs, such as those found in sugar and processed foods, can lead to weight gain and increased risk of obesity and other health problems.
Consuming too many refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pasta, can also increase the risk of heart disease and other chronic health conditions.
So while carbohydrates play an important role in providing energy to the body and supporting overall health, it’s important to be mindful of the type and amount of carbohydrates consumed and to strive for a balanced diet that includes a variety of whole, unprocessed foods.