Skip to main content
Medicine LibreTexts

4: Carbohydrates

  • Page ID
    6574
  • [ "article:topic-guide", "Carbohydrates" ]

    In this Chapter,  we explore the many types of carbohydrates, including their functions. We also take a look at diabetes and at sugar substitutes.

    • 4.1: Introduction to Carbohydrates
      Whole grains are vital to a healthful diet. In addition to fiber, whole grains offer other slow-releasing carbohydrates, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, all of which are needed for good health. Maybe you are on a diet and have been told to limit or restrict your carbohydrate intake. How much is too much and which carbohydrates are better for you? Can you promote a healthy weight with a balanced intake of whole grains?
    • 4.2: A Closer Look at Carbohydrates
      Carbohydrates are a group of organic compounds containing a ratio of one carbon atom to two hydrogen atoms to one oxygen atom. Carbohydrates are broadly classified into two subgroups, fast-releasing and slow-releasing carbohydrates. Fast-releasing carbohydrates are sugars and they include the monosaccharides and disaccharides. Slow-releasing carbohydrates include the polysaccharides, amylose, amylopectin, glycogen, dietary fiber, and functional fiber.
    • 4.3: Digestion and Absorption of Carbohydrates
      Carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth with the mechanical action of chewing and the chemical action of salivary amylase. Carbohydrates are not chemically broken down in the stomach, but rather in the small intestine. Pancreatic amylase and the disaccharidases finish the chemical breakdown of digestible carbohydrates. The monosaccharides are absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the liver. Some of the indigestible carbohydrates are digested by bacteria in the large intestine.
    • 4.4: The Functions of Carbohydrates in the Body
      The four primary functions of carbohydrates in the body are to provide energy, store energy, build macromolecules, and spare protein and fat for other uses. Glucose energy is stored as glycogen, with the majority of it in the muscle and liver. The liver uses its glycogen reserve as a way to keep blood-glucose levels within a narrow range between meal times. Some glucose is also used as building blocks of important macromolecules, such as RNA, DNA, and ATP.
    • 4.5: Looking Closely at Diabetes
      Diabetes is a disease of insulin deficiency and glucose oversufficiency. Like other diseases, genetics, nutrition, environment, and lifestyle are all involved in determining a person’s risk for developing diabetes. Type 1 diabetes was once a death sentence, but now can be treated with insulin injections. The incidence of Type 2 diabetes has more than doubled in America in the past thirty years and the rise is partly attributed to the increase in obesity.
    • 4.6: Health Consequences and Benefits of High-Carbohydrate Diets
      Whole grain dietary sources stimulate weight loss and reduce disease risk. Excessive high fructose consumption has been shown to cause weight gain. A primary source of added sugars in the American diet is sugary soft drinks. While excessive consumption of some fast-releasing carbohydrates and refined grains is potentially bad for your health, consuming whole grains made up of nutrient-dense slow-releasing carbohydrates is extremely beneficial to health.
    • 4.7: Carbohydrates and Personal Diet Choices
      The IOM has set the Recommended Dietary Allowance of carbohydrates for children and adults at 130 grams per day. This is the average minimum amount the brain requires to function properly. The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range for total carbohydrates is 45 to 65 percent. Carbohydrates are contained in all five food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, meats and beans (only in some processed meats and beans), and dairy products.
    • 4.8: The Food Industry: Functional Attributes of Carbohydrates and the Use of Sugar Substitutes
      In the food industry both fast-releasing and slow-releasing carbohydrates are utilized to give foods a wide spectrum of functional attributes. The differences in chemical structure between the different carbohydrates confer their many different functional uses in foods. Due to the health consequences of consuming too many added sugars, sugar substitutes are widely used in many foods and beverages.
    • 4.E: Carbohydrates (Exercises)