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What are carbohydrates?

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Carbohydrates are foods whose chemical makeup is made up of a molecule of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Its function is to contribute to the storage and obtaining of energy, especially to the brain and nervous system.

Thanks to an enzyme called amylase, the carbohydrate molecule (also called carbohydrate) break down, allowing the body to use it for fuel.

They are macronutrients

Carbohydrates are important macronutrients that must be obtained through diet because our body cannot produce them on its own. However, its quality must be taken into account.

The healthiest sources of carbohydrates are those that do not have some human process, that is, they are in their purest state. For example, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.   

The  less healthy sources  are those more industrialized, refined flours, sweets, cakes, sugary soft drinks, etc. x

Types of carbohydrates

There are several classifications. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), we can divide carbohydrates by …

Its chemical constitution:

Simple carbohydrates: it is the simple union of the three basic chemical elements (carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen). They are sugars that turn into glucose quickly. For example, cookies, white bread, corn syrup, refined flour, etc.

Complex carbohydrates:  they are also transformed into glucose, but more slowly due to the fiber they contain. They also provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Examples are vegetables, whole grains, whole wheat flour (whole wheat bread and pasta).

Complex carbohydrates

Its function

Sugars:  It is the simplest form of carbohydrates. It occurs naturally in fruits (fructose), table sugar (sucrose), and milk sugar (lactose).

* Fructose in fruit is also absorbed immediately, which is why it should be consumed in moderation and prefer those fruits that have more fiber content and fewer calories. For example avocado, lemon, peach, and papaya.

Fiber: You find it naturally in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They are carbohydrates that take longer to process and help the digestive system to perform its functions. Examples: whole or whole grains, fibrous fruit like pear, vegetables like broccoli.

Starches:  They are in cereals and derivatives such as flours, dough-based products such as bread, cookies, as well as in some tubers such as potatoes.

Due to its caloric constitution:

Healthy carbohydrates:

They are low or moderate in calories.

High in nutrients.

Lacking refined sugars and refined grains.

They provide natural fiber.

They are low in sodium

Low in saturated fat

Low or lacking in cholesterol and trans fats.

Examples: Non-starchy vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, eggplant, and spinach. Nuts, lean proteins like turkey pecuga.

Unhealthy carbohydrates

Very caloric.

Full of refined sugars (corn syrup, white sugar)

High in refined grains.

Low in nutrients:

Low in fiber.

Sometimes high in fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. 

Examples: Soft drinks, cakes, white bread, sweets, pork rinds, fried foods, etc.

Here we tell you what carbohydrates are and the myths around them.

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