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What are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates play a vital role in promoting your health and fitness.  The functions of carbohydrates are multiple and it is owing to this fact that it becomes all the more necessary to incorporate carbohydrates in your meal.

For instant energy generation, sugars and starch act as the perfect fuel that enable you to carry out your physical activities efficiently and effectively.  Carbohydrates add on to the taste and appearance of food items, thus making the food tempting and mouthwatering.  Carbohydrates aid in regulating blood glucose and also do good to your body by breaking down fatty acids.  So, eat plenty of foods that are rich sources of carbs, but it is recommended to go for natural slow digesting carbohydrates called complex carbohydrates.

Complex carbohydrates are high fibre foods which improve your digestion.  They help to stabilize your blood sugar, help jump-start your metabolism, and provide long-term sustained energy as they take longer to be digested and help you feel satisfied for longer after you eat.  For sustained energy, eat foods rich in complex carbohydrates.

Whole grains– Whole grains are high in fiber, low in fat and contain moderate levels of protein and are an excellent source of complex carbohydrate.  Examples of whole grains include millet, oats, wheat germ, barley, wild rice, brown rice, buckwheat, oat bran, cornmeal and amaranth.

Fruits– Fruits have a high water, fiber & vitamin content.  Fruits packed with complex carbohydrates include apricots, oranges, plums, pears, grapefruits and prunes.

Vegetables– Vegetables are also high in water & contain multiple vitamins & minerals, most varieties of vegetables are complex carbohydrates.  Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, beans, eggplant, potatoes, yams, corn, carrots, onions, all types of lettuce, celery, cucumbers, cabbage and asparagus.

Legumes– Legumes are a type of vegetable that has a seed pod.  Beans have enough protein that they are often used as meat substitutes.  Specific examples include lentils, kidney beans, black beans, peas, garbanzo beans, soy beans and pinto beans.

Complex carbohydrates reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, help regularity and contribute to weight management. Complex carbohydrates help lower blood cholesterol, maintain a healthy immune system and provide minerals and vitamins that contribute to bone growth and a healthy nervous system. Complex carbohydrates contain thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin C, magnesium and selenium.

On the other hand, simple carbohydrates supply the body with bad calories and no nutrients.  These can alter your mood, lead to cravings and compulsive eating, wide swings in blood sugar levels, and cause weight gain in most people.  They are found in foods with lower nutrients, and tend to be less satisfying & more fattening.


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