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Macronutrients: Carbohydrates

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Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates, also called sugars or carbohydrates have main function to provide energy to the Agency immediately.
They are the first source of energy in the diet, being the base of the Food Guide pyramid.

Need of carbohydrates in the diet

When we eat any food rich in carbohydrates, blood sugar levels increase almost immediately, returning to their normal levels while you are spending time, in any situation of that energy reserve.
We recommend a contribution of carbohydrates in the diet between 55-60% of the total energy consumed.
The high percentage of intake (more than half) in the diet of these macronutrients is due primarily to provide immediate energy, avoiding pulling other reserves such as fats and amino acids.
In the case of the intake of fiber (cellulose), it is advisable to ingest more than 25 grams of fiber a day, due to the effects so healthy that it possesses.

Carbohydrates function

The two main functions of carbohydrates are:
Energy: carbohydrates function as energy reserve, and can be used immediately because energy pantries have the ability to move quickly to produce glucose where necessary. This function makes the contribution of carbohydrates have to be daily.
Regulator: cellulose (dietary fiber) is responsible for regulating intestinal, having in addition to transit, other beneficial effects on health as:
  • Decreases constipation stool softening and increasing its volume.
  • It increases the feeling of satiety.
  • It slows down stomach emptying.
  • It decreases the absorption of substances, such as cholesterol.
  • In the case of diabetics, it lowers blood sugar rise.
  • Possible protective effect against colon cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Types of carbohydrates

From the nutritional point of view, there are two large groups or types of carbohydrates:
  • Sugars or carbohydrates for quick assimilation.
  • Starch

Sugars carbohydrates for quick assimilation

Within this group can be divided according to their chemical structure in:
Monosaccharides
They are the simplest carbohydrates, characterized by its sweet flavor and its small size. Among them, include:
  • Glucose: can find it in a small amount of fruit, such as grapes and vegetables. It is crucial for metabolism monosaccharide, because our body uses it to obtain energy immediately, being the main fuel of our cells, muscles and brain. This is capable of increasing the energy volume of a foodstuff without therefore enhance its sweet taste, contrary to what happens with the fructose and sucrose.
  • Fructose: can be found in honey and some fruits. It is the sweetest carbohydrate.
  • Galactose: forms when the digestive enzymes break down the milk.
Disaccharides
They are composed of two Monosaccharides together. They need our body to turn them into Monosaccharides by specific enzymes, so they can be absorbed by the digestive tract.
The most commonly used are usually:
  • Sucrose: is the common sugar used in house to sweeten coffee, desserts, etc.; and as a sweetener in beverages. He is obtained from the sugar cane and sugar beet. It is also in the carrots and pineapple.
  • Lactose: is located in milk and dairy products such as butter, yogurt, cheese derivatives It is less sweet than sucrose.
  • Maltose, also called malt sugar, is present in seeds.

Carbohydrates slow assimilation

Starch
They are formed by the union of several monosaccharide molecules, making it so they can produce energy, our body needs to degrade them to the unit more simple (monosaccharide). For this reason, they need more enzyme responsible for degrading them and more time, being slow assimilation.
Within this group, the most prominent are:
  • Starch: commonly known as "starch", is of vegetable origin. We found in legumes, potatoes, breakfast cereals...
  • Glycogen: which has function of reserve in people and animals, it is located in the liver and muscle. It is very important for athletes to have muscle full glycogen deposits, so when an energy expenditure due to physical exercise they can release it obtaining energy and yielding to the maximum.

Sources of carbohydrates

In general, we find carbohydrates in various foods, among which predominate:
  • Cereals (rice, wheat, corn, oats, millet...).
  • Bread.
  • Pasta (macaroni, spaghetti, noodles...).
  • Fruits (from where we get the fructose) and vegetables (rich in starch).
  • Pastry products.
  • Milk and dairy products (butter, cheese, etc).
  • Legumes (beans, chickpeas,...).
  • Tubers and roots (potatoes and the like).
  • Sugar (cane, beet, honey, molasses...)
Article contributed for educational purposes
Health and Wellness

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