Carbohydrate: essential for health
Published: November 12, 2020
However, from a scientifc perspective carbohydrates are a family of organic compounds which contain, in various formulae, carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (0).
From a nutritional perspective carbohydrate compounds are considered to be macronutrients and are a source of energy and in some instances fibre.
Various carbohydrates, simple and complex, are components of many foods and beverages which usually also contain other macronutrients: water, protein and fat, and various micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
The many different carbohydrate compounds are commonly grouped as sugars, starches, and fibres.
Sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides) are often referred to as simple carbohydrates, while starches and fibres (polysaccharides) are commonly known as complex carbohydrates.
The majority of carbohydrates have chemical formulae with a ratio of one carbon atom (C) to one water molecule (H2O) = CH2O. Different carbohydrate compounds are composed of differing multiples of this single unit.
Monosaccharides are represented by the chemical formula C6H12O6 (6 x single unit). Nutritionally, there are three important monosaccharides:
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Gropper, S.S., Smith, J.L. & Groff, J.L. (2005). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (4thEd.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.