Carbohydrate

There are two types of carbohydrate.

Sugars – also known as simple carbohydrates.

Starches – also known as complex carbohydrates.

Effects

These two types of carbohydrate have different effects on our body.

Sugars (simple) – these raise the body's blood sugar level very quickly, as they enter the blood stream rapidly after they are eaten.

Starches (complex) – these keep blood sugar levels constant, because they enter the blood stream very slowly.

Functions

The body needs carbohydrate for a number of reasons:

  • for energy – 1g of carbohydrate gives the body 3.75kcal of energy
  • wholegrain varieties of carbohydrate provide the body with fibre
  • carbohydrate has a protein-sparing effect, allowing protein to be used for its primary function of growth and repair

Sources

We can get complex carbohydrates from foods that are rich sources of starch:

  • bread – including bagels and wraps
  • rice
  • pasta
  • cereal
  • potatoes
A range of starchy foods containing complex carbohydrates, including bread, pasta, rice and cereal
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Remember that wholegrain varieties of pasta contain more fibre.

We can get simple carbohydrates from the following foods:

  • sweets
  • biscuits
  • shakes
  • honey
  • table sugar
A selection of sweets, a source of simple carbodydrates
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Remember, these foods raise blood sugar levels quickly.