Alternate Names : Starches, Sugars
Carbohydrates are compounds made up of sugars. They
come from the starchy part of plant foods. They easily convert to sugar
in the body. For this reason, carbohydrates are considered fast fuel.
In general, we can think of carbohydrates as either simple or
complex. Simple carbohydrates refer to a single sugar molecule or two
sugars linked together. Complex carbohydrates are long chains of sugars
Simple carbohydrates include the following:
fructose, which is the sugar found in fruits
lactose, the sugar found in milk
sucrose, which is common table sugar
People who live in developed nations generally eat and drink
too many simple carbohydrates. A rise in childhood obesity in these countries
is linked with this high sugar intake.
Complex carbohydrates are the basis of a healthy
Some good sources of complex carbohydrates are:
grains, including oats, rice, and wheat
foods made from grain, such as bread, cereal, and pasta
legumes, including dried peas and beans
vegetables, such as potatoes, peas, and corn
The food guide pyramid
recommends 6 to 11 servings of complex carbohydrates every day.
The American Heart Association, called AHA, recommends that 55 to
60 percent of a person's daily calories come from complex carbohydrates.
However, AHA warns that a diet too high in carbohydrates can cause
changes in blood cholesterol
levels. Getting more than 60 percent of daily calories from
carbohydrates can raise triglyceride and fat levels. It can also lower the levels of
HDL, which is called