Carbohydrates are one of three important macronutrients that our bodies need daily, the others being protein and fat.
Why do we need carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy: They help fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles, and central nervous system.
Fiber is a carbohydrate that aids in digestion, helps you feel full, and keeps blood cholesterol levels in check. Your body can store extra carbohydrates in your muscles and liver for use when you’re not getting enough carbohydrates in your diet.
A carbohydrate-deficient diet may cause headaches, fatigue, weakness, difficulty concentrating, nausea, constipation, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
How much do we need?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggest that most adults get 45 to 65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates. Since carbohydrates contain four calories per gram, you should consume 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates on a daily basis if you’re following a 2000-calorie diet.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture you should consume at the very least the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of carbohydrates which is 130 grams for adults 175 grams for women who are pregnant and 210 grams for women who are breastfeeding. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women should consume 25 grams of fiber daily , while men should consume 38 grams of fiber daily.
There are three main types of carbohydrates:
- Complex carbs (starches)
- Starchy vegetables like peas, corn, and potatoes
- Dried beans, lentils and peas
- Grains like oats barley and rice. The grain group can then be broken down even further into whole grain and refined grain
- naturally occurring sugars such as those in milk or fruit
- added sugars such as those added during processing such as fruit canned in heavy syrup or sugar added to make a cookie
- The indigestible part of plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes
- When you consume dietary fiber, most of it passes through the intestines and is not digested.
- In general, an excellent source of fiber contains five grams or more per serving, while a good source of fiber contains 2.5–4.9 grams per serving.
A grain contains three parts:
- Bran: The bran is the outer hard shell of the grain. It is the part of the grain that provides the most?fiber?and most of the B vitamins and minerals.
- Germ: The germ is the next layer and is packed with nutrients including essential fatty acids and vitamin E.
- Endosperm: The endosperm is the soft part in the center of the grain. It contains the starch. Whole grain means that the entire grain kernel is in the food.
What is considered a whole grain?
If it contains the bran, germ, and endosperm. Because whole grains contain the entire grain, they are much more nutritious than refined grains.
What is considered a refined grain?
If you eat refined grain food, it contains only the endosperm or the starchy part so you miss out on a lot of vitamins and minerals.