Carbohydrates are small molecules of sugars linked together, where each sugar unit contains carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. Chemically they are classified by the number of sugar units; monosaccharides (eg glucose and fructose), dissaccharides (eg sucrose and lactose), oligosaccharides and polysaccharides (eg starch, glycogen and cellulose).

Carbohydrate and nutrition

Carbohydrates containing one, two or at most three units of sugar linked together in a single molecule are referred to as simple carbohydrates. These simple carbohydrates (or simple sugars) are easily identified by their sweet taste. Complex carbohydrates are hundreds or thousands of sugar units linked together in single molecules. The complex carbohydrates can be further sub-divided into high and low fiber complex carbohydrates. Humans cannot digest the high fiber complex carbohydrates which is mainly cellulose. Examples of these foods are lettuce and broccoli. Complex carbohydrates with lots of fiber are rich sources of necessary vitamins and minerals as well as enzymes when in the raw state. Examples of low-fiber, complex carbs are banana, tomato, squash and all cereals and grains (therefore bread and pasta), potatoes and rice. Simple sugars and low-fiber, complex carbs, after digestion, appear in the circulatory system in the simple form, as glucose, on its way to the cells where it is used for energy. Complex carbohydrates are transformed into simple sugars when digested by the enzyme amylase. Amylase is secreted by the salivary glands, which empty into the mouth, and by the pancreas, which empties into the head of the duodenum.

Simple Carbohydrate Sources

Simple carbohydrates include: white and brown sugar, fruit sugar, corn syrup, molasses, honey, white flour, white bread, candy, and alcohol. These foods are usually high in calories and offer less nutritional value than complex carbohydrates. (For more information see the foods high in carbohydrates section.)

Complex Carbohydrate Sources

Complex carbohydrates include: vegetables, whole fruits, rice, pasta, potatoes, grains (brown rice, oats, wheat, barley, corn), and legumes (chick peas, black-eyed peas, lentils, as well as lima, kidney, pinto, soy, and black beans). These foods are better for us because they provide nutritional extras; vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and fat. (For more information see the foods high in carbohydrates section.)

carbohydrates in foods - by food category

Baby Food      Baked Products
Beef Products    Breakfast Cereals
Cereal Grains and Pasta    Dairy Products
Drinks    Ethnic Foods
Fast Foods    Fats and Oils
Fish    Fruits
Lamb, Veal, and Game Products    Legumes and Legume Products
Meals, Entrees, and Sidedishes    Nuts
Pork    Poultry Products
Sausages and Luncheon Meats    Snacks
Soups    Spices and Herbs
Sweets    Vegetables
Cakes    Fruit Juices
Soy Products      Sauces
Shellfish      Candy
Spreads      Soda
Dried Fruits      Soups
Cookies      Biscuits


Carbohydrate Energy

Carbohydrates are the most common source of energy in the body and contain 4 kCal per gram.

Carbohydrate Recommended Intake

The Institute of Medicine recommends adults get 40-65% dietary energy from carbohydrates. The Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization recommend between 55-75% of total energy carbohydrates.

Excess Carbohydrate

Excess carbohydrates also causes generalized vascular disease. Consuming too many carbohydrates, especially in combination with too many calories, can increase the level of blood fats known as triglycerides, which is a risk factor for artery disease.

Nutrition Facts

calories, fat, carbohydrate, high protein foods, high fiber foods, low carb foods, calcium, iron, magnesium, chromium, phosphorus, chloride, potassium, sodium, fluoride, iodine, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, vitamins and minerals, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6, biotin (vitamin B7), Folic Acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B12, vitamin B13, vitamin B15, vitamin B17, vitamin K, folic acid, tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, cysteine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, valine, arginine, histidine, alanine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, serine, cholesterol, essential fatty acids, trans fat, saturated fat, recommended daily allowance


carbohydrates and Nutritional Values - Top 221 Foods

Vegetables

leeks, turnip greens, swiss chard, mustard greens, yams, fennel, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, green beans, brussel sprouts, cabbage, sweet potato, a potato, carrots, lettuce, iceberg lettuce, spinach, shiitake mushrooms, celery, salad, mushrooms, potatoes, baked potato, onions, asparagus, pumpkin, radishes, taro, turnips, okra, rhubarb, sweet corn, cowpeas, seaweed, broadbeans

Fruits

a banana, an apple, an orange, a peach, apricots, butternut squash, lemon, grapes, watermelon, strawberries, green grapes, kiwi, blueberries, zucchini, figs, honeydew, eggplant, dates, olives, a pear, coconut, cranberries, pomegranate, a mango, pineapple, cherries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, tangerine, nectarines, raisins, plums, tomatoes, chili peppers, chilis, peppers, avocado, cucumber, summer squash, winter squash, papaya, prunes, fruit salad, persimmons

Seafood

salmon, cod, sardines, shrimp, tuna, fish, tuna salad, halibut, sea bass, scallops, crab, lobster, oysters, herring, haddock, halibut, mackerel, pike, pollock, trout

Drinks

coffee, apple juice, cranberry juice, red wine, skim milk, white wine, wine, milk, beer, alcohol, coke, soy milk, whole milk, prune juice, tea, a shake, coconut milk, orange juice, energy drinks, soft drinks, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, lemonade

Nuts and Seeds

chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, nuts, almonds, sesame seeds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, chestnuts, coconut meat, ginkgo nuts, mixed nuts, macadamia nuts

Beans and Lentils

soybeans, pinto beans, kidney beans, lentils, black beans, lima beans, navy beans, beets, beans, garbanzo beans, baked beans

Meat

beef, steak, deer, bacon, chicken, fried chicken, turkey, turkey breast, chicken breast, meatloaf, ham, lamb, sausages, chicken light meat, chicken dark meat, chicken leg, fried chicken, roasted chicken, chicken thigh, chicken wings, duck, goose, pheasant, quail, pigeon, turkey light meat, turkey dark meat, turkey breast, turkey leg, turkey wing, emu, ostrich, frankfurter, pate, pork sausage, salami, bratwurst, pork loin, ground pork, lamb shank, veal, bison, beef liver, beef ribs

Fast Foods

french fries, pizza, a slice of pizza, hot dog, hamburger, a cheeseburger, a big mac

Dairy and Cheese

ricotta, yogurt, cottage cheese, an egg, egg whites, goats cheese, cheddar, cheddar cheese, cheese, hard boiled egg, feta cheese, mozzarella, low fat yogurt

Bread, Rice, Grains and Pasta

rye, millet, flaxseed, barley, buckwheat, whole wheat bread, a bagel, white bread, bread, quinoa, corn, spaghetti, rice, pasta, brown rice, white rice, cooked egg, mexican cheese, fruit yogurt

Spreads, Sauces and Herbs

hummus, mayonnaise, butter, peanut butter, soy sauce, thyme, basil, rosemary, pepper, coriander, dill, parsley, spices, chili sauce

Sweets, Desserts and Snacks

popcorn, chips, nachos, a granola bar, saltine crackers, cheesecake, jello, ice cream, doughnuts, chocolate, puddings, frozen yogurt, a snickers bar, croissants, danish pastry, english muffins, blueberry muffins, pie, pop tarts, coffeecake, crackers, potato chips, rice cakes, tortilla chips, fudge, puddings, syrups, dark chocolate, sundae, pretzels, pop tarts

Breakfast Cereal

granola, cheerios, oatmeal, kelloggs cereals, general mills cereals

Miscellaneous

spirulina, honey, sugar, brown sugar, tofu, olive oil, garlic, tempeh, oats, salad dressing, tomato soup, mushroom soup, chicken soup, vegetable soup, infant formula, cooking oil, shortening, fish oil, soybean oil, soy protein, gravy, raisins, currants, balsam pear, succotash, macaroni, egg noodles, japanese noodles, macaroni and cheese, burrito