Carbohydrates; its 5 important functions, sources, daily requirement

What is carbohydrates ?

Carbohydrates are the biomolecule. It is also known as saccharide or carbs. It is found in the form of sugar, starch, granules, and fiberous. Most food that we eat contain some amount of carbohydrates. It ia the nutrient that we consume daily in the maximum amount. These ; therefore, make up the bulk of our diet. It is either naturally present as in rice, wheat, fruit, potato, honey, etc. It can be added in the form of sugar to food such as ice-cream, cold drinks, tea, coffee and so on.

There are some carbs which are complex like starches which the body has to digest in order to use them. There are others which is so commonly used in also an easily digestible carbohydrates.

5 Important functions of carbohydrates:- giving action:-

1. Energy giving action:-

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy. Each gram of carbs gives four Kcal of energy to the body. Although fats and proteins also provide energy, the intake of carbs is much greater and so it is the most important source of energy to us.

2. Protein-sparing action:-

Proteins are required by the body mainly for body-building purpose. At the same time, they can also provide energy to the body when there is a short supply of carbs. and fats.

However, if proteins are exclusively to give energy it is wasteful, because they are mainly derived from expensive foods and their function is body building. It is therefore, important that we should have sufficient amount of carbohydrates and fats in our diets. This will spare the proteins for theirs main task of body-building which carbs and fats cannot perform.

3. Fat utilising action:-

Carbohydrates when present in adequate amounts in the diet help in the proper utilisation of fats in the body.

4. Flavour enhancing action:-

Carbohydrates like sugar, honey and jaggery give flavour to the food, making it tasty and acceptable.

5. Digestive action:-

There are some forms of carbohydrates called fibre or roughage. That forms are not digested by body and therefore do not provide any energy. These are however, important to us. They give bulk to the diet and so help in normal movement of food in the gastro-intestinal tract. This helps to prevent constipation. These are present in coarse grains, and green leafy vegetables.

Source of carbohydrates:-

The source of carbohydrates in our diet are:

  • Cereals (rice, wheat, maize)
  • Potatoes
  • Colocasia
  • Grams
  • Fruit (banana, mango, melon, pineapple, grapes)
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Sugarcane
  • Beet
  • Jam
  • Milk
Honey is good source of carbohydrates
Honey is good source of carbohydrates

Sugar, jaggery and honey are pure carbs. Fruit especially bananas, mango and grapes are good source of carbs.

Daily requirement of carbohydrates:-

An adult man of average weight and doing moderate work needs about 400 grams of carbs daily. Athletes, mountaineers and labourers require more. They should take carbs rich diet because it need less free oxygen for their oxidation then other food materials. Man should draw 55 to 75 per cent of food calories from carbohydrates. Of these, 80-85 per cent should come from easily digestible fats such as starch and dextrins.

Carbohydrates form more than half of our total diet, but form only 1% of our total wright. This show that they are primarily fuel foods and are rapidly oxidised to supply energy for body activities.

Effect of deficiency and Excess on the body:-

The effect of carbohydrates on human body can be related to their deficiency or excess in diet. Lack of carbs in the diet basically causes lack of energy. This leads to underweight, tiredness and poor work efficiency.

Excess of carbohydrates in diet:-

If our diet has excess carbs content, it is converted into fat and stored in our body. Therefore, an increased intake of glucose or carbs leads to overweight. This in turn can be one of the cause for other diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

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