The Truth About Carbohydrates

Fuel for the Body's Functions
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel for most functions. They supply the body with the energy needed for muscles, the brain and the central nervous system. The brain depends completely on carbohydrates for energy.

The body stores carbohydrates as glucose in the body for later use, such as fueling a work out. If there is extra glucose, the body will store it as fat.
Types of Carbohydrates
Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, beans and dairy products. They can also be found in grain products and sweeteners such as sugar, honey, molasses and corn syrup.

There are three types of carbohydrates: 
  • Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest. This results in fewer carbohydrates that are stored as fat.
    • Whole grain carbohydrates are complex carbohydrates that are digested very slowly. They contain vitamins, minerals and fiber, all of which promote good health. Fiber and nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, and beans, also have many important functions for the body.
  • Indigestible carbohydrates are also known as fiber. The body is unable to digest fiber, so it is therefore not an energy source; however, fiber is good for the body as it keeps the digestive system healthy.
  • Simple carbohydrates are broken down and digested quickly. This can increase the appetite and the risk of excess fat storage.

Choosing the right carbohydrates can be simple. Just avoid simple carbohydrates, such as sweet and refined grains, and eat more complex carbohydrates and fiber rich foods.

For More Information
For more information about healthy foods and cooking, visit the American Heart Association Nutrition Center.