What is Carbohydrate? What role does it play in human health? And how can we read carbohydrates on food packaging? This article will answer all these questions. Let's explore this nutrient together with Soumaki.
What is Carbohydrate?
Carbohydrate - carbs or saccharides - refers to sugars, starches, and fibers found in plant-based foods and dairy products. Carbs are composed of three elements: C, O, H (carbon, oxygen, hydrogen).
According to Wikipedia, carbs play the following roles:
For the human body: storing/transporting energy, preserving muscle, promoting digestive health. Its derivatives also contribute to immune function and fertilization.
For biology: participating in the construction of most organic substances on Earth (such as cellulose in plants and chitin in animals...)
In summary, carbohydrate is a primary food source and an essential form of energy for humans and most organisms. Its main role is to transport and store energy.
Classification of Carbohydrate
According to NIH, the following types of carbs are found in our daily food:
Sugars: also known as simple carbs, these are the most basic form of carb units
Starches: also known as complex carbs, are composed of many sugar molecules
Fiber: fiber is also a form of complex carb
To help you better understand, Soumaki has created a table comparing and analyzing the two main types of carbs and fiber below:
How to read carbohydrate ingredients on food packaging
Labels on food packaging have nutrition facts, including information about carbohydrates. And here are the notes when reading about this ingredient:
See also: What are macronutrients?
Questions about foods containing carbs
In this section, Soumaki will answer some common questions from readers:
1. How many carbs should I eat per day?
The amount of carbs each person needs varies depending on their individual needs and body type. However, as previously mentioned, the average daily carb intake for most people is around 45-65% of their daily calorie intake.
2. Which carb-containing foods are good for the body?
Vegetables: Almost all types of vegetables are good for the body.
Fruits: Apples, bananas, strawberries, grapefruit, cherries, papaya...
Beans: green beans, lima beans, lentils...
Nuts: almonds, walnuts, peanuts, macadamia nuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds...
Grains: whole oats, rice, barley, quinoa, millet...
In particular, eating a lot of fiber helps the body feel full, reducing hunger cravings. Leafy greens contain fewer calories than other types of vegetables. If you want to lose weight, leafy greens are a great addition to your daily meals.
3. Do carbs cause obesity?
Yes and no:
Yes: added sugars and refined carbs (found in carbonated drinks, fast foods, beer, and wine...) can cause obesity.
No: complex carbs and fiber are different: they not only preserve energy and improve health but also help with weight loss and weight management.
In fact, humans have been eating carbs for thousands of years (Asians eat rice and oats, Europeans eat wheat and grains...). So, food from carbs is not bad, only the way of consumption is bad, for example:
The Okinawa and Kitavan people have a steady diet of carbs (starch and fiber). They often prepare simple or raw foods. They have the highest life expectancy in the world.
Modern Americans in large urban areas often consume a lot of refined carbs and processed foods. Therefore, they are susceptible to obesity, cancer... and negative health outcomes.
Conclusion: Carbs are not the main cause of obesity. When consuming carbs, you need to keep in mind two things:
Eat an appropriate amount of carbs for your body type and lifestyle. For example, a person weighing 80 kg and exercising a lot will need to consume more carbs than a person weighing 60 kg and exercising less.
Choose the right type of carbs: limit simple carbs and prioritize complex carbs in your diet.
4. How to build a balanced meal with carbs and nutrients?
A nutritious meal is a meal that is full of nutrients, including carbs, protein, and fat. At Soumaki - a healthy restaurant in Saigon, we have designed many meals according to the low-medium-high-calorie needs for customers. At the same time, we also disclose the energy index of the 3 nutrients in each dish, with almost perfect accuracy.
If you need a healthy, quick, and convenient meal, come to 42 Ly Tu Trong, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, or order through Grabfood to have us deliver delicious, healthy meals to your doorstep.