Carbohydrates – Their Functions And Some Good Food Sources
Carbohydrates are a macronutrient that can be found in food. Carbohydrates have really been villainized by a lot of diets in recent years. Many pointing to carbohydrates being the cause of weight gain. While eating too many carbohydrates can have negative health consequences, that is pretty much the case for any food group. While there are certainly sources of carbohydrates that are to be avoided, it doesn’t mean to avoid all carbohydrates entirely. After all, not all carbohydrates are bad for you. In this article, we will be going over the function of carbohydrates and some of the best sources of carbohydrates.
Function Of Carbohydrates:
Carbohydrates are one of the essential fuel sources for your body and brain. While carbohydrates are primarily used as a fuel source generating energy, they can serve other purposes as well.
As mentioned, the main function of carbohydrates is to provide energy for your body to function. When you consume carbohydrates, your body then converts it into glucose for energy production.
2. Brain Function
They are not only important for providing fuel for your central nervous system but also your brain itself. Carbohydrate intake can have a direct impact on brain function including memory and even on your mood. The brain looks to get its fuel from glucose and it has a very high rate of metabolism which can only be matched by carbohydrate consumption .
Types Of Carbohydrates:
Simple carbohydrates are those that can be broken down very quickly. These carbs contain one or two sugars and are usually found in processed foods or foods with refined sugars. It is never recommended to get a diet full of simple carbohydrates because they provide no nutrient value beyond the short term energy boost they offer. Thus, they are often referred to as empty calories.
Complex carbohydrates have three or more sugars and they are typically the carbohydrates that you want to get more of into your diet. These carbohydrates are more complex, therefore they do not breakdown as quickly. Thus, they do not provide the same level of an insulin spike as a simple carbohydrate source like a candy bar. These carbs break down slower than simple carbohydrates which means they provide much more sustained energy. While they still breakdown much quicker than protein and fat sources, they don’t spike insulin levels as high which can result in inflammation throughout the body.
Good Sources Of Carbohydrates:
This is one of the best sources of carbohydrates that you should be actively getting into your diet. All vegetables will provide you with complex carbohydrates that can help provide your body with a sustained energy source. This includes carrots, peppers, tomatoes, leafy greens, and more.
Fruits are another healthy choice when you are looking to get complex carbohydrates into your diet. With fruits, you have a range of options to choose from including apples, strawberries, and more. With fruits, you are getting healthy antioxidants and soluble fiber along with a healthy energy source.
Nuts can be a good source of carbohydrates. Along with being a good source of carbs, they can provide you with all kinds of other nutrients which will help your body function.
Oats happen to be one of the healthiest sources of whole carbohydrates available. Not only are they packed with a high percentage of carbs, but they contain hefty amounts of vitamins, minerals, and soluble fiber. This is perhaps why oats have been shown to help reduce bad cholesterol in those that are at risk for heart disease .
Tubers can be a great source of carbohydrates. This is especially true when it comes to sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are made up of around 20% carbohydrates and they offer a lot of fiber along with other healthy vitamins like beta-carotene.
As you can see, not all carbohydrates are to be avoided. While you certainly want to limit your intake of simple carbohydrates to avoid excess weight gain, complex carbs can be added to a healthy and balanced diet without worry. Your body and brain rely on carbohydrates for its preferred energy source and by supplying it with complex carbs, you should notice improvements in brain function and even with your mood.