Carbohydrates are organic compounds that provide our bodies (and brains) with glucose, their basic fuel. There are two major types of carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates (starches and fiber) and simple carbohydrates (sugars).
Whole grains provide the most nutrient-dense source of complex carbohydrates. Oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice and barley are examples of whole grain products that are also rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other biologically active components called phyto-chemicals.
Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages provide energy, but with less nutritional value and fiber content. Eating whole grain foods helps the body to keep its sugar balance and lower the risk of heart disease.
Some diets, like the Atkins diet, make carbohydrates appear to be "evil" or "bad" and the source of body fat. These diets are unhealthy because they usually include worrisome amounts of fat and are not a sustainable way to eat. If you are going to try a low carb diet, try to at least include some fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on a daily basis as they contain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are needed for good health (you can't get all of these nutrients even if you are taking supplements).
Good food sources for carbohydrates include:
- Whole grains
- Whole grain pasta
- Low-fat milk
For more nutritionial information you can call Health Services to make an appointment with the campus nutritionist 580-5550.
For more information on Carbohydrates you can visit Harvard University's website.