Carbohydrates are chemicals that contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They are the body’s preferred source of energy as the process of digestion converts them into forms of sugar that the body can use easily. Sugar, bread, pasta, potatoes and cereals are all foods rich in carbohydrates. Sugar, however, is not the best means of getting adequate carbohydrate as it has no minerals, vitamins or fibre, and is not always metabolised properly because it enters the bloodstream so quickly. It also gives rise to tooth decay.
There are two types of carbohydrates –
- Simple carbohydrates (mono-saccharides i.e. single saccharides in each molecule) which are found in sweet tasting foods like fruits, sugar and honey;
- Complex carbohydrates (starches or polysaccharides i.e. many saccharides in each molecule) which are found in starchy material in cereals (bread, pasta, macaroni, lasagne etc.), rice, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
They are concentrated sugars. Starches may be better than sugar in that they take a lot of time to break down so they get absorbed much more gradually and do not force the pancreas to eject a big dose of insulin into bloodstream. Lot of sugar plus lot of insulin in the bloodstream mean one thing – more fat deposited.