Carbohydrates: What Are They and What Are the Benefits and Harms?
Carbohydrates are one of the essential nutrients required by our body to function correctly. They are a crucial source of energy and play a vital role in regulating our body’s temperature and water balance. But what exactly are carbohydrates and where can we get them from?
Carbohydrates can be found in various foods such as bakery products, potatoes, legumes, bananas, candies, sweets, and apples. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. For instance, bread made with wholemeal natural flour, which is rich in unprocessed natural carbohydrates, is healthier than pastries made with white flour and processed white sugar.
Other foods containing carbohydrates are cereals, bread, legumes, fruits, milk, vegetables, sugar, and sugary foods. In short, all non-meat and fat-free foods contain carbohydrates. Some of the healthiest carbohydrates are unrefined bran flour, fruits, and vegetables, barley, whole wheat pasta, rolled oats, wholemeal, and foodstuffs containing cereals.
Carbohydrates come with numerous benefits. They help to regulate the body’s temperature, provide energy for daily activities, and glucose, which is derived from carbohydrates, is the primary source of the brain and nervous system. Additionally, carbohydrates help maintain water and electrolyte balance, significantly accelerating the absorption of calcium in the intestines. Fiber, which is a type of carbohydrate, significantly balances the absorption of simple sugars with bowel movements, thereby reducing the risk of cholesterol buildup in the blood.
However, consuming an excess of carbohydrates can lead to various health problems such as obesity, high blood sugar and pressure, and unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Experts recommend that carbohydrates should make up 45-65% of our daily calorie intake.
Not consuming carbohydrates at all can also lead to negative consequences. For example, the lack of vitamin B, some amino acids, and fiber consumption can adversely affect mental health. Additionally, people who do not consume carbohydrates may experience a range of unwanted psychological and physiological effects, such as nervous system disorder, fatigue, weakness, various digestive system diseases, and forgetfulness. Carbohydrate consumption also affects the formation of blood groups.
In conclusion, carbohydrates are an essential nutrient for our body. However, as with any food, excessive consumption should be avoided. Healthy carbohydrates should be consumed regularly and adequately to maintain a balanced and healthy diet.