Carbohydrates

Starches; Simple sugars; Sugars; Complex carbohydrates; Diet - carbohydrates; Simple carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are one of the main nutrients in our diet. They help provide energy for our body. There are three main types of carbohydrates found in foods: sugars, starches, and fiber.

People with diabetes often need to count the amount of carbohydrates they eat.

Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are made up of sugar molecules that are strung together in long, complex chains. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods such as peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables. Both simple and complex carbohydrates are turned to glucose (blood sugar) in the body and are used as energy. Glucose is used in the cells of the body and in the brain. Any unused glucose is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen for use later. Complex carbohydrate foods provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are important to the health of an individual. The majority of carbohydrates should come from complex carbohydrates (starches) and naturally occurring sugars, rather than processed or refined sugars, which do not have the vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in complex carbohydrates. Refined sugars are often called empty calories because they have little to no nutritional value.

Simple carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are broken down quickly by the body to be used as energy. Simple carbohydrates are found naturally in foods such as fruits, milk, and milk products. They are also found in processed and refined sugars such as candy, table sugar, syrups, and soft drinks. The majority of carbohydrate intake should come from complex carbohydrates (starches) and naturally occurring sugars rather than processed or refined sugars.

Starchy foods

Carbohydrates are found in starchy or sugary foods, such as bread, rice, pasta, cereal, potatoes, corn, fruit, fruit juice, cookies, candy, soda, and other sweets. Other possible sources include peas, milk, and yogurt.

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