What Is the Importance of Carbohydrates in Living Organisms?

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According to McKinley Health Center from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, carbohydrates are important because they serve as a fast source of energy and are required by the central nervous system, kidneys, brain and muscles to maintain normal function. Dietary fiber is a type of carb that cannot be digested by the human body. It passes through the intestinal tract and helps with waste elimination, preventing constipation or hemorrhoids.

Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients crucial for survival, the other two being fat and protein. Carbs are found in foods like grains, potatoes, fruits and dairy and to a lesser extent in vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. For athletes, Active.com recommends a high-carb intake to optimize physical performance and mental training.

Some mild controversy exists over whether a low-carb or low-fat diet is more efficient for weight loss, but Georgiann Caruso from CNN reports that studies on the two demonstrated similar long-term results suggesting that neither is inherently superior. Linda Van Horn of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago wrote an editorial about the study and argues that focusing on eliminating one macronutrient in favor of the other is risky, while nutritionist Lauri Wright recommends that people serious about losing weight and improving health consult a dietitian to develop a personalized plan.