How Do Carbohydrates Help the Human Body?


Quick Answer

Carbohydrates vary in form and source but all provide humans with the energy they need to function. Carbohydrates fall into one of two categories, according to the CDC: simple and complex. Depending on this classification, their location in the body and role they play as sources of energy vary.

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Full Answer

Simple carbohydrates are generally classified as sugars and starches. They are simple in biological composition and are quickly absorbed and used by the body for fuel. These carbohydrates are commonly found in sweet foods and drinks, including fruits, sweetened beverages and desserts such as ice cream, cookies and candy. Simple carbohydrates are also found in breads and grain products such as pasta and cereal. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, provide humans with long-lasting fuel sources. These carbohydrates are found in vegetables such as lettuce, celery and carrots as well as some dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt. Nuts and whole grains also contain complex carbohydrates, which leave people feeling full longer and provide a steady, continual source of energy. These long-lasting carbohydrates ultimately prevent peaks and troughs in blood sugar levels. Simple carbohydrates, on the other hand, provide an instant boost of energy but are processed much more quickly and leave the body far sooner than complex carbohydrates.

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