Understanding Carbohydrates and What They Are

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what are carbohydrates

 

Listen to conversations whether they are between people sharing diet methods or chatting in health and fitness circles, and you will often hear about the carbohydrate getting a bashing.

But does it really deserve the criticism that it gets, or is it just that the people slamming it just don’t understand what it is, and are just repeating some of what they have heard or read somewhere?

Let’s go a bit deeper and you can find out what they really are….

What Are Carbohydrates?

There are three major nutrients that we need to consume in order for us to survive which are known as macronutrients, carbohydrates are one of these three macronutrients.

There are 2 main types of carbohydrates and they are made up of chains of sugars, they are:

Complex Carbohydrates: Are carbs which contain 3 or more sugars and generally have a milder, starchier taste.

Simple Carbohydrates: Are carbs which contain 1 or 2 sugars and have a sweet taste. Examples of simple carbohydrates include fruit sugars (fructose) and refined sugar (sucrose).

The Function of the Carbohydrates in Your Body

Out of the 3 macronutrients, the energy source that your body prefers the most is the carbohydrate.

When carbohydrates are consumed, your body breaks them down into glucose which is then released into the blood.

Then the glucose is taken from the blood, goes into your vital organs and cells, and when it is required it is then used as fuel for the body.

On top of this, good quality carbs also produce a great source of fiber which not only boosts your digestive system, but makes sure you extract more nutrition from the foods you eat, as well as protecting your bowel from disease.

And in addition to all of this, good quality carbohydrates are an exclusive source of many vitamins and minerals.

These vitamins and minerals are essential for peak health and support many important functions that go on within your body.

Choosing the Best Foods for Your Carbohydrates

As I mentioned earlier about carbs getting a bashing in certain circles, one of the main reasons carbohydrates gets slated so much is that the foods people use to get their carbohydrates from are extremely low in quality.

These low quality carbs contain very little to no fiber and are very scarce on vitamins and minerals.

As well as, they’re often crammed full of calories. So as a result, these low quality carbs cause unwanted weight gain and do little to nothing to support good health.

On the plus side, by choosing better and higher quality carbohydrates you can fill up on your fiber, vitamins and minerals and supply your body with the nutrition and energy it needs without gaining weight.

To make sure that you always choose those high quality carbohydrates stick as much as you can to natural plant based sources, and steer clear of all processed products.

By eating a range of colourful fruits and vegetables throughout the day, you’ll be able to fill up on those quality carbs easily and get that fuel your body needs.

How Do You Benefit From Healthy Carbs?

benefits of carbohydrates

OK, we know that there are tons of so called health and fitness articles out there on the interweb that bash carbohydrates and say that they don’t do a lot to support good health and should be removed from your diet.

Well pushing all that baloney aside, as I have already mentioned, including the right types of carbs in your diet can have a lot of benefits to your health and your body.

Here I am going to look into the four main benefits of eating healthy carbohydrates and what types of carbs contribute towards them.

They’re a Concentrated Source of Vitamins & Minerals

We’ve all heard that we should be having our five a day right?

There was even a UK study done where researchers were calling to change it to 7 a day.

Well this is for a very good reason, because the fruits and vegetables that you eat are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals.

The essential nutrients in these foods support just about every single cell and vital organ in your body.

Some of the vast array of benefits include: supporting healthy growth, protecting against disease, maintaining healthy vision and strengthening your immune system.

They Can Produce a Steady Source of Energy

You might have come across the claims that carbohydrates can cause your energy levels to spike and crash quickly and then try to justify this as a reason to avoid eating them.

But, if you decide on healthy natural carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables, and avoid unhealthy processed carbohydrates, like white flour and white sugar for instance, you’ll feel full of energy for most of the time.

Carbs are your body’s preferred energy source and as long as you are eating the right kind, you will benefit from balanced and consistent energy levels for most of your day.

Great Way to Stay Hydrated

Healthy natural carbs are a fantastic source of water, with loads of the fruit and vegetables we have access to containing around 70% water or in some cases more.

Having lots of water in your diet and staying hydrated has a lot of health benefits which include: improved blood flow, enhanced muscle and joint function, better body temperature control and healthier skin.

They Have High Levels of Fiber

Fiber which is also sometimes referred to as roughage is an indigestible carbohydrate that is derived from plants.

It can be found in fairly large quantities in both fruits and vegetables.

By consuming your recommended daily intake of fiber, you can enjoy a number of health benefits which include: Improved digestive health, a reduction in the risk of bowel disease, a reduced risk of cancer and a reduction in the risk of heart disease.

A lot of us don’t get enough fiber in our diets, but by including proper amounts of fruit and veg on our plates each day, this shouldn’t be an issue any longer.

Take Advantage of the Benefits

So as you can see, carbohydrates are not really the dangerous nutrient many people sometimes perceive them to be.

If you stick to having healthy natural carbohydrates and avoid the processed, unnatural ones, you’ll avoid any potential negative side effects and enjoy all the goodness they have to offer.

So if you haven’t done so already, go and stock up on some fresh fruits and vegetables, make sure you’re getting your multiple servings each day and start enjoying all the benefits that I have discussed above.

 

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About Me: I am a Certified Nutritional Therapist and Certified Advanced Dietary Supplements Advisor. I have also been a researcher and writer in the health, wellness and lifestyle industry for over 9 years. I'm International Institute for Complementary Therapists (IICT) approved, CPD accredited, YMCA awards endorsed, and a husband and father to 2 beautiful daughters. My mission is to help people to take control of their health and well-being by following a healthy enjoyable lifestyle, that not only gives them the body they’ve always wanted, but helps towards living a longer, happier, disease free life.

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