What are carbohydrates? What are their advantages and disadvantages?


Carbohydrates are the compounds and are made up of three elements including carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, the proportion of hydrogen and oxygen is the same in water. The word carbohydrates mean that the ‘hydrates of carbon’. Glucose, sucrose, and starch are the examples of carbohydrates. The carbohydrates produce energy when they are oxidized in the body. 

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Types of Carbohydrates:

There are three types of carbohydrates such as Cellulose, Starch, and Sugar. Out of these, Cellulose is not digested by our body because our body does not have enzymes to digest cellulose. Thus cellulose does not provide energy to the human body, and hence it is not a food. Cellulose is important in our diet as a fiber or roughage which helps in maintaining a healthy digestive system. Starch and sugar are the two carbohydrates which provide a big share of the energy to our body.

Sources of Carbohydrates:

The carbohydrates in our food are found mainly from the plant sources such as wheat, rice, maize, potatoes, sago (sabu-dana), peas, beans, and fruits. Milk also contains a sugar called lactose. In other words, we conclude that the carbohydrates are used usually by our body in the form of food products such as Roti (Chapati), Bread, Noodles, Rice, Dosa, Idli, Potato and much more.

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Starch and sugar are the key sources of carbohydrates for our healthy diet. Starch is rich in potatoes, maize, rice and other cereals. Sugar is found in our diet that is mainly as sucrose (table sugar) which is added to drinks and many prepared foods including jam, biscuits, and cakes. Glucose and fructose are naturally obtained in various fruits and vegetables. Glycogen is carbohydrate found in the liver and muscles.

Advantages of Carbohydrate:

  • Essential for Our Body - Sugars and starches are digested into glucose in our body which can metabolize to produce energy. A right amount of supply of carbohydrates is particularly very important for our brain and to support continued muscle function during sports and endurance activities. As per the Institute of Medicine, a common person should consume 130 grams of carbohydrates daily, or get 45 to 65 percent of their daily calories from carbs.

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  • Health Benefits from Fiber - The main sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Fiber is not digested for energy, but it provides the other health benefits. Soluble fiber decreases the danger of developing the cardiovascular disease by decreasing cholesterol and also helps prevent spikes in blood sugar. As per report about ‘Nutrition Reviews’ published on April 2009, higher consuming of fiber may prevent high blood pressure and help in reducing the weight.

Disadvantages of Carbohydrates:

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  • Weight Gain - While you consuming extra carbohydrates and sugar which increases the weight of our body. Sugar added to foods increases the sugar in the blood. The consuming extra sugar in our blood which converts into sugar into fat for storage.
  • Health risks – As per University of Massachusetts Medical School, Consuming refined carbohydrates and foods with sugar may increase the levels of triglycerides in our blood. High triglycerides are related to coronary heart disease, diabetes, and fatty liver diseases. High use of sugar-sweetened beverages may increase the blood pressure, chronic inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
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