Have you ever seen a car moving on the road without fuel? I am sure you would say No, never. Same is the case with our body. Our body also needs fuel to perform its daily functions. The fuel comes in the form of energy. And, the biggest source of that energy is the CARBOHYDRATE. Health benefits of carbohydrates are numerous starting from cardiovascular health to providing a peaceful sleep. Whether it's breathing, moving, running, exercising or mentally performing a task all this requires energy. In other words, to perform all this we need carbohydrates. Improved heart health, diabetes, and digestive health are some of the health benefits that we get from carbohydrates. Discussed below are such 15 health benefits of carbohydrates along with its healthy sources that we need to include in our daily diet.
Table Of Contents:
What Are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy for our body. Along with proteins and fats; carbohydrates form the three macronutrients that we need for healthy well being. In simple words, carbohydrates are the fuel on which our body runs. There are numerous health benefits of carbohydrates which we will explore in later part of this article.
Depending on their chemical structure carbohydrates could be either simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates include processed sugar as well as natural sugars found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Grains, cereals and starchy vegetables are some sources of complex carbohydrates. Many complex carbohydrates are a good source of fiber.
What Is The Importance Of Carbohydrates?
Importance of carbohydrates resides on its energy giving property. As a main source of energy for our body, they fuel the central nervous system of our brain, heart, and kidney. There are four important functions of carbohydrates in the body; to provide energy, to store energy, to build macromolecules and to spare protein and fat for further use. Carbohydrates help with concentration, stamina, and recovery. A diet which is deficient in carbohydrates may lead to health complications such as muscle weakness, fatigue, irregular bowel movement, concentration issues, bad breath etc.
15 Health Benefits Of Carbohydrates
Of various benefits, 15 health benefits of carbohydrates are discussed below:
‣ Increases Energy Levels: Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose before they are absorbed in our bloodstream. Later our body uses this glucose for energy. For performing the most basic and most vital task like breathing to something extensive like exercising.
‣ Lowers Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease: Complex carbohydrates like cereals are a good source of fibers. Researches have shown that consumption of fiber lowers risk of heart diseases. Furthermore, another review of 22 observational studies revealed that there was a 9% lower risk for each additional 7 grams of dietary fiber consumed per day.
‣ Reduces Blood Sugar In Type 2 Diabetes: Studies have shown that consumption of soluble fiber supplements lowers fasting blood sugar. It does so in people with type 2 diabetes as well as prediabetes. However, caution must be exercised while consuming an excess amount of refined carbs because of its negative impact on heart and kidney.
‣ Enhances Mood: One of the health benefit and importance of carbohydrates is associated with serotonin. Carbohydrates have a stimulating effect on the production of this important hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with good mood.
‣ Improves Mental Performance: Carbohydrates are referred to as food for the brain. For someone whose job profile requires a high level of mental performances; it is not advised to be on low carb diets.
‣ Helps In Controlling Weight: Many of the health benefits of carbohydrates lies in its fiber content. Fibers add bulk to our food. They give us a feeling of satiation without adding pounds. High fiber food is low in calories which can help in weight management.
‣ Reduces Risk Of Cancer: Tomatoes, bell pepper, onion etc are amongst the many vegetables which are rich in carbohydrates.T hey are loaded with antioxidants. They fight abnormal cell growth. If we consume food that slowly converts to glucose then we would deprive the early stage cancer cell of their food. This would lead to cell death.
‣ Promotes Digestive Health: Another benefit of carbohydrate that comes from its fiber content is improved digestive health. Soluble fiber (one of the two types of fiber found in carbohydrates) helps in making bowel movement easier. They are generally present in legumes, fruits, oats etc
‣ Reduces Risk Of Diverticular Disease: A disease of the intestine called diverticular disease is shown to be reduced by 37% when the intake of insoluble fiber is increased.
‣ Provide Stored Energy: Carbohydrates can be stored in the form of glycogen in liver and muscle. If our body has sufficient glucose for our current needs, it gets converted to glycogen and is used in a situation of high-intensity physical work.
‣ Improves Athletic Performance: If you are someone who is into sports or in some form of athletics, you should consider carbohydrates for an efficient supply of energy.
‣ Prevents Loss Of Muscle Mass: Carbs reduce muscle breakdown and provide glucose as a source of energy to the brain. Hence, if we want to prevent starvation related loss of muscle mass then we should consume some amount of carbohydrates.
‣ Aids In Muscle Growth: Bodybuilders or wrestlers or someone else who is interested in growing muscle should consider carbohydrates and quality protein. This would help in improving the store of glycogen. As a result, the muscle would look stronger and fuller.
‣ Improves Sleep Pattern: A little less know health benefit of carbohydrate is related to sleep. Slow digesting carbohydrate food contributes to a peaceful sleep.
‣ Helps With Anti-aging: Food rich in carbohydrates help in stimulating hormones which are associated with cell rejuvenation and recovery. This makes us look younger than the actual age.
List Of Carbohydrates
It is true that carbohydrates are vital for many of our body functions. At the same time, it is also true that filling our belly with cakes, cookies, and pastries in order to meet the daily recommended serving would not serve that purpose. It is, therefore, very important that we understand what is healthy and what is not i.e what are good sources of carbohydrates and what is a bad source of carbohydrates. Mentioned below is a food list of carbohydrates explaining the same:
How Much Carbohydrates Do We Need Per Day?
Mentioned below is the recommended daily allowance of carbohydrate as per the United States Agriculture Department.
Carbohydrates are one of the three key macronutrients which our body requires to function. There are a lot of health benefits that are associated with it. Such 15 health benefits of carbohydrates are discussed above. Though carbohydrates are important for our body, it doesn't apply equally to all sources of it. Hence, we should aim at maximizing the consumption of healthy sources of it and minimizing consuming unhealthy bad carbs.