Carbohydrates have several roles in living organisms, including energy transportation, as well as being structural components of plants and arthropods. Carbohydrate
derivates are actively involved in fertilization, immune systems, the development of disease, blood clotting and development. They are called carbohydrates because the
carbon, oxygen and hydrogen they contain are generally in proportion to form water with the general formula Cn (H2O)n.
Molecules consist of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. A major food source and a key form of energy for most organisms. When combined together to form polymers,
carbohydrates can function as long term food storage molecules, as protective membranes for organisms and cells, and as the main structural support for plants and
constituents of many cells and their contents.
Molecules consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. The main constituents of all membranes in all cells (cell walls), food storage molecules, intermediaries in
signaling pathways, Vitamins A, D, E and K, cholesterol.
Molecules contain nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They act as biological catalysts (enzymes), form structural parts of organisms, participate in cell signal and
recognition factors, and act as molecules of immunity. Proteins can also be a source of fuel.
Nucleic acids (nucleotides)
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid). These molecules are involved in genetic information, as well as forming structure within cells. They are involved in
the storage of all heritable information of all organisms, as well as the conversion of this data into proteins.
Most organic matter on earth is made up of carbohydrates1 because they are involved in so many aspects of life, including:
Energy stores, fuels, and metabolic intermediaries. Ribose and deoxyribose sugars are part of the structural framework of RNA and DNA. The cell walls of bacteria are
mainly made up of polysaccharides (types of carbohydrate). Cellulose (a type of carbohydrate) makes up most of plant cell walls. Carbohydrates are linked to many proteins
and lipids (fats), where they are vitally involved in cell interactions.
Bread, pasta, beans, potatoes, bran, rice and cereals are carbohydrate-rich foods. Most carbohydrate rich foods have a high starch content.3 Proteins and fats require more
water for digestion than carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the most common source of energy for most organisms and animals, including humans. Carbohydrates are not
classed as essential nutrients for humans. We could get all our energy from fats and proteins if we had to. However, our brain requires carbohydrates, specifically glucose.
Neurons cannot burn fat. 1 gram of carbohydrate contains approximately 4 kilocalories (kcal)
1 gram of protein contains approximately 4 kcal
1 gram of fat contains approximately 9 kcal
However, proteins are used in both forms of metabolism - anabolism (building and maintaining tissue and cells) and catabolism (breaking molecules down and
releasing/producing energy). So, the consumption of protein cannot be calculated in the same way as fats or carbohydrates when measuring our body's energy needs. Not
all carbohydrates are used as fuel (energy). A lot of dietary fiber is made of polysaccharides that our bodies do not digest. Most health authorities around the world say that
humans should obtain 40 to 65% of their energy needs from carbohydrates - and only 10% from simple carbohydrates (glucose and simple sugars).
When eating carbs always try to choose foods as close to their natural state as possible. For example:
A piece of fruit is better than fruit juice.
A whole potato is better than pasta.
Steel cut oats are better than oat flake cereal.
Brown rice is better than white rice.
Carbs within colorful vegetables and fruits are always better for your body than carb-rich foods like breads, pastas, rice, and potatoes. Here's a great graphic that illustrates
how to incorporate carbs into your diet.
-Carbohydrate good sources:
Vegetables (all kinds)
Oats and oatmeal
Whole Grain Breads
Whole Grain Pitas
Whole Grain Cereals
Whole grain pastas
-Carbohydrate to avoid or limit:
Sweets and Candies
Processed Breakfast Cereals
Processed corn products
Processed potato products
Processed rice products