Carbohydrate Cheat Sheet: 5 Things You Need to Know
In a post-Atkins world, the word “carbohydrate” can strike fear in the hearts of dieters, but the concern is probably distorted beyond reasonable bounds. MedlinePlus, a website operated by the National Institutes of Health, provides the science behind how carbohydrates operate. Carbohydrates are used by the body to make glucose; this fuels the body, giving us the energy we need for daily activities.
Glucose is either used immediately by the body, or it is stored in the cells until it is needed. Foods containing carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels, and knowing how many grams of carbohydrates have been consumed in a day is important for people with diabetes.
It is also important to know the kind of carbohydrate you are eating. Carbs are considered “simple” or “complex,” often referenced as “bad,” and “good,” respectively, in diet books. This doesn’t mean that all simple carbohydrates are bad, the classification into complex and simple actually depends on the food’s chemical structure. Foods with one or two sugars are “simple,” and those containing three or more are considered “complex.” This can be compartmentalized even further into the following five groups.